This article originally appeared in ICMI.
If you have a strong plan built on effective processes, you are starting from a strong foundation that you can leverage and then adjust to meet the current situation when trouble arises.
When is the last time you and your team assessed the effectiveness of the processes that determine the strength of your division’s or team’s foundation? Is it time for a diagnostic check and tune-up?
Your organization or division can have its own mission statement (one that is aligned with the organization’s mission) or it may utilize the company’s mission statement. Overall, your mission is a company’s purpose or reason for being, and an organization’s “identity” is a function of how faithfully it pursues its mission. When a company has a clear mission, it provides a “north star” that can guide both company-wide and individual decision making.
Mission assessment: The following is a quiz with 5 questions designed to allow you to assess whether your mission statement is just words on a page or a powerful statement that acts like a compass.
Read your mission statement and ask:
1. When reading our mission statement:
- The reason why our division or team exists is clear.
- It describes what we do but not why we do it.
- It doesn’t describe either what we do or why we do it.
2. Our length of our mission statement could fill up:
- The front and back of a tee-shirt. (3-5 sentences)
- The front and back of 2 tee-shirts. (6-10+ sentences)
- The front of one tee-shirt. (1-2 sentences)
3. Current and prospective employees:
- Will be able to understand what we do but not what differentiates us.
- Will not be able to gain a good sense of what we do or what makes us different.
- Can easily understand our mission and what makes working at our organization special/exciting.
4. Our current mission statement:
- Can be stated by more than 65% of our employees.
- Can be stated by 35%-65% of our employees.
- Can be stated less than 35% of our employees.
5. If/when our customers or clients read our mission statement:
- 75% or more would understand it and agree with it.
- 40-75% would understand it and agree with it.
- Less than 40% would understand it and agree with it.
Scoring: Highest score is 10
Question # Question # and your response Points assigned
1. a 2
1. b 1
1. c 0
2. a 1
2. b 0
2. c 2
3. a 1
3. b 0
3. c 2
4. a 2
4. b 1
4. c 0
5. a 2
5. b 1
5. c 0
7-10: Sailing to victory – Destination ahead
You and your team have a mission statement that acts as a strong compass for both direction and decision making. There may still be room for improvement, so look at the statements above where your mission didn’t get a “2” and identify the actions necessary to move it to a “2.”
Even a perfect score of “10” warrants a checkup from time to time to ensure that the existing mission still meets the criteria of an effective mission statement and what they do contributes to the achievement of the mission.
4-6: Heading in the right direction
There is a mission and it is visible to your employees and customers, but it may need to be trimmed down or rewritten to clearly communicate to both employees and customers what the company does and what differentiates it from the competition. Leadership may need to connect the dots for employees to ensure they can see how what they do helps move the company closer to achieving its mission.
0-3: In need of a course correction
This is a great opportunity to either establish a mission statement if one does not exist and/or engage employees in collaborating to help rewriting an existing one.
Criteria of An Effective Mission Statement
Here is the checklist for an effective mission statement, along with a list of questions to assist in developing one or honing an existing statement.
1. If you are writing a separate one for your division, it must be linked to the mission of the overall organization.
2. Should be developed collaboratively by representatives from the key groups of stakeholders.
3. Should inspire you and others to act.
4. Should convey your company’s key strengths and what differentiates it from the competition.
5. Should be easily understood by existing and prospective employees and customers.
6. Should be concise. In general, it should be no more than a sentence long.