I was listening to National Public Radio recently. Lucy Kellaway, a columnist for the Financial Times was poking fun at management jargon. The topic of her witty ranting on this particular day was the company mission statement. You know what she’s talking about – those mission statements that are a string of words like “value” and “service,” without actually saying anything distinctive about the company. Sometimes the mission may look OK . . . until you start to think about it. Then you realize it doesn’t really mean anything. Case in point: Years ago, Dilbert creator, Scott Adams, went under cover at Logitech, and actually got a team of executives to agree on this mission statement for their new division: “The New Ventures Mission is to scout profitable growth opportunities in relationships, both internally and externally, in emerging, mission inclusive markets, and explore new paradigms and then filter and communicate and evangelize the findings.” Really? How does this help anyone – “internally or externally” – understand why this division exists?
How A Great Mission Statement Influences People and Profits
When done right, a mission statement is a manifesto that guides the actions and decision-making of the organization, spells out its goals, provides a path and states the shared purpose and belief. It not only embodies what the company cares about, it also gives reasons for the stakeholders to care about the company. In a sea of forgettable mission statements, I came across one that hits the mark. Take a look below at the mission for Holstee’s, a New York-based company, which sells eco-friendly clothing and accessories. This small company rose from obscurity last year after this statement went viral:
This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Life is simple. Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people. We are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often: getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once, seize them. Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating. Live your dream and share your passion. Life is short.
This mission statement resonated so strongly with people around the globe, that it became the most effective marketing for the company . . . and the best-selling product! That’s right, the company got so many requests for their mission statement that they made it into a poster (on recyclable paper, of course) and it’s a top seller. Just proves that a powerful mission statement goes beyond influencing people to influencing profits.