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03/12/2013

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Sandy Richardson

Thanks Howard for your comment. Your point and examples are really valuable. What I think they best illustrate is the truth that it isn't good enough for organizations to stop at their mission statement. A mission isn't an entire strategy. Some organizations that understand this need/want more detail behind their mission to further describe what it looks like in action - J&J's credo does this as does a compmany's SMaC. In my experience, it often comes down to the complexity of the business, the tolerance of executive leadership to take their mission to a deeper level of description, and the culture of the organization re: simplicity versus perceived complexity.

HOWEVER, going back to my comment that a mission isn't strategy, what ALL businesses do need is an integrated business model that outlines the value creating objectives and actions that support putting their strategy into action. I still think that the best way to depict and communicate that business model is a strategy map which includes a company's mission statement (and values, vision, and customer value proposition). When combined on a single page, company's have a powerful management tool that should enable quick and aligned decisions and action at all levels of the organization

Howard Armitage

I was delighted to see this discussion of mission vs mantra (slogans). As an academic in front of smart, well read and talented students or as a consultant in front of hard-nosed business executives, I have faced the same questions that motivated Sandy to pen this piece.

Of course, there are similarities between mission statements and slogans, and great slogans can sometimes capture the essence of a firm's promise. For example, I have often thought that the Fed Ex mantra of "absolutely, positively, overnight" is one of the great 3 word slogans of all time. It tells every stakeholder associated with Fed Ex exactly what the value proposition of the company is. In my opinion, few have nailed an organization’s purpose and commitment like this trilogy of words.

But mantras are not mission statements and as much as I agree with Sandy’s desire to keep it short, it is mighty tough to meaningfully collapse the essence of an organization’s being into a handful of words and still provide the guidance and inspiration that are the hallmark of good mission statements. Johnson and Johnson’s mission statement (called the “Credo”) which was instrumental in guiding employee actions during the Tylenol incident, is of considerable length http://robdkelly.com/blog/leadership/mission-statements-examples/ and yet appears to be internalized by the J&J work force.

In summary, I am really pleased to see this dialogue. Sandy has provided an important service in highlighting the critical importance of mission statements and the salient features which separate outstanding mission statements from the also-rans.

Sandy Richardson

Thanks William - glad you liked it. Was there anything in particular that you found most helpful? How can you see this information appying in your organization/work?

William J. Coleman

Very interesting and informative read. Highly recommend reading this.

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