What’s in a mission statement?
We all seek purpose in our lives. Although companies embody a very simple and singular purpose, to make money for its shareholders, most people require something more.
A company’s purpose, such as it relates to its human stakeholders, is enshrined in the company mission. The company mission statement describes succinctly what the company does, and which purpose its seeks to fulfil.
In theory this should be easy to do. What do you do, and why? In practice, companies lose their way, overcomplicating how they think about themselves, and end up confusing themselves and their intended audience.
Bottom line for the fast and furious
The mission statement is much maligned. For decades relegated to the bowels of corporate strategy, marketing, and HR, the mission statement is an opportunity for companies to define and communicate their purpose. What do we do? And why? With a clearly defined and impactful purpose, companies can do amazing things.
Read on for further ‘analysis’…
I picked three global brands, SpaceX, Crocs, and Sony. Let’s take a look at their mission statements.
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionise space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
Appropriately for a company of rocket scientists, the SpaceX mission has ‘engineer’ written all over it. The company makes rockets and space craft, ok, I get that. So far, so simple, I mean it’s been over half a century since we landed on the moon, surely making rockets go into space can’t be that hard. Oh, and they intend to enable humans to live on other planets! WTF? Holy mackerel, that’s insane. But also super cool, and why not? After all it has been 57 years since we first landed on the moon, and we know we can physically get to Mars, now all we need to do is work out how to build a rocket big enough, and shield the human passengers from cosmic radiation, prevent them from going insane cooped up in a tiny capsule for months, and get them safe onto the planet and enable them to sustain themselves in a hostile environment indefinitely. Wow… The SpaceX mission statement is amazing because it is so simple, and yet it contains within it enough information to allow teams of people to collaborate and focus on specific problems to solve to fulfil a common purpose; enable humans to live on other planes.
To become the global leader in sustainable lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories whilst ensuring that the four pillars of the Ocean Minded brand – Quality, Authenticity, Responsibility and Community – resonate throughout our company, products, associates and actions.
Crocs is a love/hate brand. Whatever your position, let’s focus on the mission statement and see what it tells us. Following on from the beautiful simplicity and awesomeness of the SpaceX mission, we immediately detect that Crocs is a different kind of organisation. It’s less clear what Crocs does, an initial focus on comfortable shoes has now been extended to include apparel and accessories. Perhaps a natural extension of Crocs’ product and marketing strategy, but it doesn’t come imbued with lots of purpose. In the next section, a commitment that four core values should resonate throughout the organisation. In the end, the Crocs mission feels like the product of a committee. Does every Crocs employee feel a pervasive sense of purpose on reading this?
At Sony, our mission is to be a company that inspires and fulfils your curiosity. Our unlimited passion for technology, content and services, and relentless pursuit of innovation, drives us to deliver ground-breaking new excitement and entertainment in ways that only Sony can. Creating unique new cultures and experiences. Everything we do, is to move you emotionally. BE MOVED.
Sony is one of my all time favourite brands. Since owning a Playstation, a Playstation 2, longing for, but never actually owning a ‘proper’ Walkman, and then finally buying a top of the range Bravia LCD television over 10 years ago, Sony has had a special place in my heart. Turns out that my emotional response was perhaps not entirely accidental. The mission statement keywords are curiosity, passion, innovation, and excitement. Still, I’m not a fan of this mission statement. The caveat ‘in ways on Sony can’ is recursive and myopic, suggestive of a company which looks to the past as much as it does to the future and yet thinks quite highly of itself, although with a creeping sense of insecurity. The ending is also odd, ‘BE MOVED’ sounds like a command, or perhaps a grant of permission, to let go of our emotional constraints, and let Sony be our inspiration and muse. One cannot help wonder how pervasive the Sony mission is among the rank and file, outside the marketing department.
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