Promises of empowerment, lofty goals of collaboration, and heartfelt expressions that recognize the true value of human initiative. Toss them all into a blender and you have a confusion smoothie. And maybe a mission statement.

The mission statement. Why do you exist? Should be pretty straightforward, right? So why it is that most companies' mission statements look like they came straight out of the Dilbert mission statement generator?
Most are absolutely ambiguous and vague - any company could swap out the logo and voila, the mission statement could be theirs too.
I wonder if it is the two fisted punch of "we're afraid" and "we don't really know how/why we're different."
Mission statements should be bold. They should clearly acknowledge "we are about THIS and therefore, we aren't about THAT." But most companies are afraid to exclude anything or to suggest they can't be everything to everyone.
So they get into their committees and wordsmith a statement that no one can argue with because no one can actually define what it means.
As Seth Godin commented, "Mission statements used to have a purpose. The purpose was to force management to make hard decisions about what the company stood for. A hard decision means giving up one thing to get another."
So I'm curious...for those of you on the consulting/agency side: Do you help your clients create/refine mission statements? If so, how do you help them avoid the Dilbert version?
If you are on the client/organization side: Do you have a mission statement that actually defines your organization's reason for existing? If so, how did you push past the pabulum language to something that actually had teeth?

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image of Drew McLellan

Drew McLellan is the CEO of Agency Management Institute, a company serving 250+ agencies to help the owners build profitable agencies that evolve and scale.

LinkedIn: Drew McLellan

Twitter: @DrewMcLellan