When properly crafted, a mission statement encapsulates an enterprise’s core values and beliefs. In addition to expressing a firm’s goals and objectives, an effective mission statement also operational and service standards for employees to follow to achieve those goals and objectives, whether in manufacturing, customer service, or any other element of the company’s operation. Some companies fashion their slogans, mottos, and other advertising material on their mission statements. While mission statements can have several advantages, there are drawbacks when they’re poorly crafted or do not reflect a company’s actual operations.
Advantage: Charts a Course
A well-defined mission statement is comparable to a guiding star on a dark night, it illuminates the direction that a company wants to travel. This has the benefit of defining a company's objectives to its staff so they understand the goals they are trying to achieve. For example, part of McDonald's mission statement reads, "...Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile." These kinds of mission statements help guide daily work objectives and provide a long-term view about where a company is headed.
Advantage: Defines Relationships
Effective mission statements can help shape a company's philosophy towards its customers and clients. No matter what products or services a company offers, it needs someone to buy those products and a mission statement can express how it will differentiate itself from competitors. Mission statements delineate who a company is targeting as a customer, and how it plans to meet that customer's needs. For example, the Walt Disney company's mission statement, "We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere," defines the customer as "people of all ages, everywhere," and pledges to offer them the best entertainment possible.
Disadvantage: Can Create Confusion
Effective mission statements require time and effort and a real focus on what a company wants to achieve. Ineffective statements may lack specificity and provide no direction for employees to follow. Statements that are too broad will not define a company's ethos in an original way. For example, a software company whose mission statement is, "We want to sell software to everyone who craves quality," is not as specific as, "We want to sell software products across all platforms, including social media networks, and deliver quality at an affordable price to the average electronic technology consumer."
Disadvantage: Unrealistic Goals Diminish Credibility
Mission statements often include a company's moral or social values and how it wants the public to view its operations. But if a company's mission statement is too grand and ambitious, it can harm its employees ability to meet stated goals. For example, a company that enters the marketplace with a mission statement of becoming a $200 billion company and the leading company of its kind worldwide in five years, may be too unrealistic and directly affect its employees morale when year after year, those grand ambitions go unmet. Though mission statements should be bold and strive to change the culture, creating realistic goals will motivate a company's workers far more than goals that are high-minded but not achievable.)
Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.