Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
Match the companies listed below to the correct mission statements.

Companies:

Walmart, Google, United Way, Facebook, Twitter, Coca-Cola, Google (unofficial), BMW, Starbucks, Apple

Mission Statements:

1. “To refresh the world… To inspire moments of optimism and happiness… To create value and make a difference.”
2. “Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
3. “Don’t Be Evil.”
4. “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
5. “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
6. “Our mission: To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
7. “We save people money so they can live better.”
8. “We are committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through… innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.”
9. “… the world’s leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility.”
10. “We unite people and resources to build a stronger community.”

How’d you do

Are you a mission statement maestro? Or a mission statement misfit?
(answers below)

No matter. The real question is this:

Why do we have mission statements?

To give our company direction? To make sure all divisions and all C-level executives are on the same page? Because it’s expected of us as business leaders to have a mission statement?

How about this as an answer: to give us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. That’s right. Why do we get up and do what we do every day?

A mission statement, first and foremost, should address this question.

Yes, I know all about the 3 or 4 or 5 elements that every mission statement should have; depending on which marketing textbook you pick up, you’ll get a slightly different answer. Here’s what 27 years of marketing experience says to all of that:

Who cares?

Why do I say this? Because most mission statements are constructed in the following fashion: a group of C-level executives gather in the boardroom and a secretary takes notes. Now, all of these very smart people boast MBAs and advanced degrees from quality institutions and all know buzzwords like “core competency” and “customer facing” and “shareholder value”. And those nice buzzwords get written on the large sheets of paper or on the whiteboard as the discussion unravels.

And that’s all wonderful. But what happens is the final mission statement ends up taking into account a little bit of each executive’s input (the CEO does not want to leave anyone out) and so the result is a nice potpourri of buzzwords all mixed up into four or five long, bland annual-report-like sentences.

Furthermore, when you ask most employees (I ask my students this every class) to recite their company’s mission statement, I get about five percent who actually know it by heart and about one percent who actually believe in it. That’s sad.

So the next question is: why even bother with a mission statement?

First, what is a mission statement? Well, if you break it down: the word “mission” implies that you really should incorporate why you, as a company, exist in the first place. What is your mission in life? What problems do you solve for your customers? Why do you and your employees get out of bed in the morning?

The next question to address is, “Who is my mission statement for?”

I will argue that your mission statement is for you and your employees. I back up my claim by asking you one simple question: when is the last time you made a purchase decision solely based on a company’s mission statement?

I rest my case. Customers just don’t care.

So now that we are past that, let’s focus on working on a mission statement that is internally-focused and centered on your employees. Create one that motivates them. One that challenges and inspires and gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

I think out of all the examples from my quiz above, the one that resonates or could resonate the most with the employees is:

Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

That is Starbucks’ mission and makes sense since it is somewhat inward facing. After all, they offer benefits like healthcare and education assistance for employees and tend to hire those who are socially and environmentally conscientious.

A lot of the others are primarily outward facing, which is great for those reading annual reports, but for customers, eh, who really cares?

So here is your new mission: get a mission statement that means something to those who make your company, your company. Need help? Send me a message and we’ll make the seemingly impossible… possible.

Answers to the quiz:

1. Coca-Cola
2. Starbucks
3. Google (unofficial)
4. Google (official)
5. Facebook
6. Twitter
7. Walmart
8. Apple
9. BMW
10. United Way