Corporate mission and vision statements sometimes get a bad press. Sure, poor ones can be clichéd, vague and overly long. Most successful organisations in the world have them, however, so what is not to like?
The challenge is to develop a mission and vision statement that people really connect with and feel that they own. At their best, the statement should be the compass that gives a workforce direction and a clear sense of purpose. At their worst, however, they can be little more than designed-by-committee platitudes that rarely emerge from some forgotten corporate file.
So how do you go about writing something that will really work for your organisation? At Wild Thinking we regularly facilitate successful mission and vision workshops and here are the 5 steps that we recommend:
- Work with a Wild Thinking facilitator: You will need someone to keep a tight rein on proceedings – someone who is dispassionate about the eventual wording, but dedicated to helping everyone else get what they want.
- Get the right people in the room: Great mission and vision statements are the ones that people feel connected to. If you want to inspire people, then get them involved in the process.
- Use a clearly defined process: “Why are we here?” debates can run and run (and run!). If you are going to be successful in generating punchy mission and vision statements, you will need to work collaboratively, efficiently and to a structure that helps you to involve people and make decisions.
- Agree on the format in advance: Single sentences and bullet points always help with clarity and impact. Longer versions can help with detail and specifics. Whichever route you go down, you will work more effectively if you have agreed the format in advance.
- Be conclusive: A well-run workshop will develop its own energy and people will feel a far higher level of ownership of the output if they can see the finished article on the day. There is a real danger of “not invented here syndrome” creeping in when committees take a draft offline to complete later.
And finally, aim high! Great mission and vision statements should stand the test of time and continue to inspire people for years to come. We love Oxfam’s:
Mission: To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice
Vision: A just world without poverty