Businesses on a mission to find a statement

I was sitting in the lobby of a local business a couple of years ago, waiting to talk one of their “representatives.” My eyes wandered onto the wall where the words “OUR COMPANY MISSION” were displayed in huge letters. Below it was this: “To offer excellance in all that we do.”

Yes, they had misspelled the word ‘excellence.’ So I did what any modern day human would do. I took a picture of it with my phone and put it on Facebook – where it was “liked” by many.

The idea of a “mission statement” is to define a company and its purpose. Examples:

“Acme Maps’ mission is three-fold. Unless the map is larger, and then it is four-fold.”

Or, “Uncle Daffy’s Novelty Toys’ mission is to offer the very best in high-quality, name-brand wax lips, joy buzzers and X-Ray glasses that can see through women’s clothes.“

And, “Marvin’s Sit-and-Grin strives to bring its customers the very finest in porta-potties.”

When I was growing up, my dad had a very successful clothing store. His employees were happy, well paid and dedicated. And all of that, without a mission statement. Hard to believe, I know.

But nowadays, it seems like any self-respecting business has to have a mission statement. Even roadside coffee stands have mission statements: “To offer great service and outstanding coffee – while wearing a bikini.”

Heck, even the Starship Enterprise had a mission statement: “To explore new worlds and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.” The rest of the statement is usually edited out: “To have Captain Kirk put the moves on every woman – human or not–in the universe.”

You have to wonder what the point of most mission statements is? To motivate employees – or curry favor with customers?

If it’s to curry favor with customers, shouldn’t the statement be:

“To make you deliriously happy. We don’t care if we make a dime. It’s all about YOU.”

If it’s to motivate employees: “Our mission is to make butt-loads of money – and if you don’t help us do that, you’ll be cleaning out your desk this afternoon.”

There are countless websites that offer mission statement templates – so that if a company can’t exactly figure out what theirs is, there are people who can. It begs the question: Why not just decide on your mission – and skip the statement?

A friend of mine works at a place where the company mission statement is written on every wall in the building – so no employee can supposedly miss it. (“Oh, that’s right! I forgot. I’m supposed to be passionate in what I do.”)

My friend also says that following the first day on the job, no one ever looks at the statement again.

Why not write a mission statement that everyone can agree on?

“Our mission is to try and not get canned – until we can get a better gig somewhere else that will pay us better and offer more benefits, free parking and more vacation time.

Oh yea, and also to boldly go where no man has gone before.”