“The fundamental shortcoming of most mission statements is that everyone expects them to be highfalutin and all-encompassing. The result is a long, boring, commonplace and pointless joke. Companies are all writing the same mediocre stuff.”
– Guy Kawasaki
Most organizations try to define themselves by telling us what they believe in, what they stand for. But self-definition isn’t believable until you tell us what you stand against.
Ever read the Declaration of Independence? Now there’s a mission statement.
It says we believe “all men are created equal” and that God gave each of us the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But this famous statement is prefaced by our admission that these things are so obvious that we hold them to be “self evident.”
In other words, “It goes without saying.” Who doesn't believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiess? Likewise, most mission statements proclaim things that every company believes in.
Do you want your mission statement to be read, quoted, cussed and discussed? If so, don't tell us what your corporate culture includes. Tell us what it excludes. Tell us what you’re fighting against.
After it lists the 4 things we feel to be self evident, America’s Declaration of Independence goes on to name 28 things we were against. The point of the document is that we felt strongly enough about these 28 things that we were willing to part company with England over them.
Two weeks ago I revealed a bit of self-definition when I said that I didn’t agree with Marshall McLuhan’s statement, “The medium is the message.” In the interest of fairness, I linked my comment to the official, detailed explanation of McLuhan’s statement made by the Chief Strategist of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. But alas, this was not enough. My staff tells me that dozens of people sent emails of complaint and debate.
God Bless America.
We're definitely the Land of the Free. But are we still the Home of the Brave?
Most mission statements are pointless for the same reason most ads are pointless:
1. They're not written to provide focus or clarity.
2. They're not written to separate you from the pack.
3. They're not written to persuade.
They're written not to offend.
My first book, The Wizard of Ads, was named Business Book of the Year 10 years ago. Do you remember the subject of its very first chapter?
Roy H. Williams
PS – See new photos on our campus update page.
The early bird gets the room in Engelbrecht House.
Have you taken a look at Wizard Academy's upcoming classes? Register early and stay on campus for free. You'll thank yourself for your foresight.
PPS – Ever been down the rabbit hole?
Less than 3 percent have ever found it.
I wonder what makes these people different?