The importance of having a clear, inspirational mission statement has been amply demonstrated. Employee engagement is higher, customer interactions are smoother, and business success comes easier. It’s important, even for a fledgling startup, to be very clear on what it is they do, and why that matters.
But not all of us are inspirational writers, able to easily toss off a statement that sums up all the intersecting bits and pieces of our business and what it does. We often view our own company through a very limited lens, focused on the product, on the solution, on the features or the “value”. That sort of tactical vision is important from a sales perspective, helping us to convince potential buyers, but it can keep us from getting a more inspirational view of our company’s existence.
An important first step in crafting a memorable mission statement is broadening our perspective so that we can find those thoughtful, surprising points of view that open up possibilities.
So here are three questions you can ask yourself about your business (or your team, or your department, depending on where you’re at) that will help you get a more expansive view of your own mission. Consider each one, jot down some of the thoughts that it brings up, and allow yourself to think broadly, to seek more possibilities. You can download these questions as a worksheet to share around with your team if you’d like.
1. Who Do We Serve?
Whose problems are you really solving? Whose suffering are you alleviating? You may feel like this is obvious, but taking the time to clearly articulate this, without trying to turn it into a sales pitch, will help your entire organization rally around the crucial service your company provides. Allow yourself to consider unlikely possibilities, and think about what your product looks like to people in various positions.
It’s helpful to review the differences that might exist between the people who use your product, and the people who pay for it. How might those two groups view your offering differently? What does that tell you about what your company does?
2. What is the Good We Bring?
Your organization will do better, stay focused, deliver more, if everyone in the company has a clear understanding of why it matters that this company succeeds. Why will the world be better if you succeed?
Get starry-eyed and optimistic with this. If everything went perfectly, if you had the funding, the product-market fit, the capacity, what would you be able to do? How would you be able to help people? What problems would you be able to solve?
3. What Will be Different?
Sometimes it’s helpful to try to imagine a more concrete vision of the future. What will be true when you’ve succeeded that isn’t true today? What is it that your company is bringing into being?
This is a good starting place if you’re more of a visual than a literary thinker. Let your imagination range a little bit and picture a world where EVERYBODY uses your product or service. What’s possible in that world? What’s available to the people who live there that isn’t in this world?
What came up in all that? Hopefully each question gave you some new angles on your company and how it serves the world. If you want to take this further, let me recommend you get other folks at your company to do the same exercise. Compare the answers and see what strikes you all as something powerful and directional.
Post your reactions in the comments!