Mission Statements vs. Priorities
It has not been too long ago when the fad of Mission Statements
appeared on the corporate scene. Not only were corporations writing
their Mission Statements but the trend was carrying over into all kinds of
organizations. Without a Mission Statement, you were considered to
be rudderless in the sea of activity. It was considered a good business
practice to have a Mission Statement. But what are Mission Statements?
To me they appear to be a lot of puffery. Dr. Eric Schulz in
his book, The Marketing Game,
refers to Mission Statements
as "feel-good mottos developed for public consumption." They describe
how we want the general public to picture us. But, what do Mission
statements have to do with reality? Not much from my point of view.
Most mission statements deal with the quality of their company's products
or service and their dedication to their employees. Now turn the corner
and see what happens when times get a little tough. The first thing
you see is cost cutting. The quality of the service or products is reduced.
So much for that part of the Mission Statement. The next thing
to go are the employees. All of a sudden we have staff reductions and
budget cuts. All of this leads me to believe that when things are not
going well we interject our real priorities. We start immediately to
look at the bottom line, that is, profits. Have you ever seen a Mission
statement that says, "Our goal is to reward our investors?" Or one
that says "To maintain corporate profits?" Or how about "To maintain
my Bonus?" Actually from my perspective these statements appear closer
to the truth than what I read on the walls of the corporations. I can
easily accept the first two as being valid and good Mission Statements. It
is only the third one where I have a concern, and where I have experienced
the results of such a goal.
For example, recently when giving a talk on concepts which I consider to
be analogous to Mission Statements, I cited an example of a large, well known
company. This company has a Mission Statement that covers their Values
and Vision. In the Values area they covered respect, integrity, communication
and excellence. While in the Vision area they covered their markets,
creativity, diversity, customers, environment and change. I read key
parts of the Mission Statement to my audience, but not the whole thing. Everyone
said that it sounded like it would be a great company to work for until I
told them the name of the Company, Enron.
From the corporate board room to the consumers' homes, there is
and the practical.
know what we would like to be -- but we also know what we must be. Why
don't we just say it?
There are exceptions but they are few and far between. I have found
one company that I am happy to be a part of even in a small way. Over
a period of seven years, I found that there were many times when ethics took
a front seat to profits. I can't say that about too many companies.
Yes, I said ethics
took the front seat, rather than say
profits took a back seat because they look to the positive rather than stating
it in the negative form. It is a simple differentiation but an important
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The Mission Statement is how companies want to be
but TRUTH is seen in their PRIORITIES and ACTIONS.