The importance of mission
It's well known that an organization is either in a state of growth or a state of decline. A good mission statement can help you avoid the decline side of the equation. But what makes a good mission statement?
The mission statement is more that an advertising slogan. It's a multifaceted way of life. I'll briefly touch on the key ingredients as I learned them at Zenith Data Systems (ZDS).
First, the mission statement must simple and to the point. The mission statement at ZDS was "build it right, this time, the first time, and every time!" It's not a flowery statement full of philosophy. It's simple and to the point. Every employee can easily memorize it and that's what you want.
Second, a mission statement should address the strategic goal(s) of the enterprise. It should reflect what makes your product superior. Zenith's strategic advantage was quality. They leveraged engineering expertise to dominate the government and fortune 500 sectors. So their mission statement addressed the concept of quality work.
Third, it should be remembered by every employee. You ought to be able to randomly poll co-workers and consistently hear the correct expression of your mission statement. If not, then perhaps your mission statement needs review.
Fourth, the mission statement should serve as a guide to daily activity. Employess should be empowered to reengineer their own work processes eliminating tasks that don't support the mission and improving those that do. It's critical that the employees perform this reengineering for themselves rather than having management do it for them. You want employees to accept ownership of their work. This moves them away from being cogs in the wheels of Scientific Management theory and allows them the joyful satisfaction of craftmanship.
Fifth, compliance to work standards must be measured on a regular and ongoing basis. Remember "that which is measured get done". Assessment needs to occur locally. The workers and the peers know the job best so they should be the first line of assessment. This will reinforce ownership and responsiblity across the workplace.
Finally, celebrate success! Reward those bright stars who exemplify your ogranization's mission statement. This act will motivate others to improve as long as the rewards are genuine.
The mission statement is not something to dust off during the accreditation cycle. It has to be lived everyday and at every level of your organization. In fact, management should be aware that they are under greater scrutiny than any other area of the enterprise. Your people know when you are "walking your talk" and when you're not. You can't ask them to do anything you aren't willing to do yourself. Doing so will doom the enterprise to failure.
Copyright 2005 by Mark Leon Winegar