A mission is your expression of what it is that your organization does. Your mission tells a customer, employee, shareholder, vendor or interested job candidate exactly what you are in business to do. Determining your mission is an early component in corporate or organizational strategic planning.
You cannot identify values, goals, or action plans without first succinctly defining what you do. Sure, you might think, what we do is we make widgets. Do you get, however, that "we make widgets" is hardly inspirational for your employees, prospective employees, or customers?
A Superior Mission Sparks Joy
The mission is a description of why your organization exists currently. The mission should inspire your employees to contribute on a daily basis. It should enable them to see the intrinsic value of what they contribute and how you serve your customers.
The key to developing a mission is that the words you use must identify the big picture, a big picture that makes your employees think you hung the moon and the stars for them.
This mission is a brief description of why your organization exists. For example, TechSmith Corporation makes software that captures your screen. Hardly inspirational, but the company lived with that mission for several years.
Gradually, the mission was refined and shared out with the world. It became: "We empower people to create remarkable videos and images that help share knowledge and information." Now, that's a powerful expression that attracts and keeps employees.
Recently, their mission was updated yet again: "TechSmith is the go-to company for visual communication. We help anyone create professional, impactful videos and images to share their knowledge with others."
Sharing knowledge is way more inspirational than "software that captures your screen" or even, "we empower people."
Developing the Mission Statement
Once you and a cross section of your employees or your senior team reach agreement on the contents of your mission, this content is turned into a mission statement. You do this so you can more easily share your story with employees, prospective employees, and your customers.
Normally, the mission statement ranges in length from a couple of words to several paragraphs. A shorter mission is more memorable. When a mission stretches on for pages, and even paragraphs, it is usually because the organization is also expressing how it plans to reach or create the mission, usually the four or five key strategies it will use to accompliah the basic mission.
This process is better left for later in strategic planning when the organization develops strategies, goals, and action plans. It just confuses the process of identifying your organization's basic mission at this stage.
Your goal when you develop your mission is descriptive, memorable, and short. The mission is translated into actionable plans via the development of a mission statement.
The Impact of Your Mission on Employees
If you have successfully assimilated and integrated your mission into your company culture, every employee should be able to verbally share the mission statement.
Each employee's actions should demonstrate the mission in action. The mission, along with the vision and the values or guiding principles, provides the touchstone, with which employees in your organization make decisions.
The best missions are kept front and center in an organization. They are frequently communicated by senior employees who give examples of the mission being accomplished in real employee stories that demonstrate the appropriate actions.
The mission is often publicized by employees as a part of their signature file in email communications. It is posted on the company's "About" webpage. It is shared on social media and in job postings for prospective employees. It is used as a tool for communicating and as a PR tagline to serve the organization's best interests.
Sample Organization Missions
These sample organizational missions are provided to demonstrate the proper way to create a mission.
"To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
"Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more."
"To create content that educates, informs, and inspires."
"To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible."
"We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion."
"To build the web's most convenient, secure, cost effective payment solution."
"Since 1951, The Nature Conservancy has worked to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends."