Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Say, WHAT?

“We interactively disseminate unique technology while continuing to assertively customize cost effective opportunities to exceed customer expectations.”

“We envision to competently facilitate interdependent sources in order to proactively supply scalable deliverables in order to solve business problems.”

“We exist to competently leverage existing professional content and conveniently build virtual products while promoting personal employee growth.”

“We strive to seamlessly disseminate competitive catalysts for change to allow us to efficiently pursue enterprise-wide intellectual capital because that is what the customer expects.”

Let me tell ya, If you want to have some real fun, go to the Mission Statement Generator. That’s where I got all of these. Aren’t they a complete rip? They make me want to LOL.

OK, let me back up a minute and let you know where I’m going with this.

We all know that businesses need mission statements, right? It’s critical to your future to have a guide, some kind of focal point that you can use to define your direction. That way, as the day-to-day meanderings of running a business get to you, there’s something to use to correct your course. You don’t get lost in the craziness, you can keep moving forward.

At least that’s the theory.

Too many companies, I think, create a mission statement not because they feel like they really need one, but rather because they heard that they have to have one. It’s like somewhere along the road a teacher gave them an assignment to make a mission statement, and so they did, and it’s now framed on their wall, but they never look at it or never use it and they’ve even forgotten what it says because it really just goes on and on and never really spelled out what their company was really about in the first place.

Here’s some tips for creating a mission statement that can actually help you.

1. Decide what you do

This is, in many ways, the hardest part of all. Before you can create a statement that describes what you do, you have to decide what you do. Some people start a business because they have something they’re excited and passionate about. Others start businesses for more financial reasons, and they don’t care so much what they do. In both cases, it’s important to decide what the business is all about.

While you’re contemplating what you’re doing in business, also contemplate the “Why”. What is your motivation?

2. Don’t be afraid to get specific

Reread all the bad examples of mission statements above. The biggest reason they’re bad is that they’re vague. There’s no indication from any of them what the business sells, creates, or accomplishes. One of them “proactively supplies scalable deliverables”. Right. What on earth does THAT mean?

Some people think that If they’re specific in their mission statement, then it limits their ability to change or to diversify later on. Well, if the business grows to the point where change or diversity is imminent, then it might be time to revisit the mission statement, anyway, right?

3. The shorter, the better

A long time ago, I took a poetry class. At the time, I was minoring in creative writing, and they had brought in this poet to teach a special summer class. She was great and she taught me a lot of really impressive stuff, but one thing that really stuck with me has helped me write everything since then, not just songs and poems.

She said that the essence of what you want to say is like a ghost, hovering there in the air, wanting to be understood. It’s so clear and pure that it’s transparent. You can see right through it to the meaning.

There’s a natural tendency to think that lots of words make a better poem, a better article, or a better mission statement. But each phrase, each sentence, each word you use is like a sheet on the ghost. And the more you say, the more sheets are there, covering the ghost, weighing it down and hiding the pure meaning.

In songwriting, I teach that you should be able to sum up the meaning of the song in about 6 words. If you can’t, then you need to refine and redefine the song. Or maybe redefine your business.

These three elements can help focus your business and make your direction clear. And that’s why you need a mission statement, not just because you need some thing to put in your new frame.

No comments:

Post a Comment