Mission Statements

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Ackoff (1986) proposes that a good mission statement have five characteristics: • It will contain a formulation of objectives that enables progress towards them to be measured, • It differentiates the company from its competitors,

• It defines the business that the company wants to be in, not necessarily is in, • It is relevant to all stakeholders in the firm, not just shareholders and managers, • It is exciting and inspiring.

As noted by Thompson (2002, p.94) the principal purpose of these statements is communication, both internally and externally and a major benefit for organisations is the thinking they are forced to do in order to establish sound statements. It is essential that the mission or indeed the vision is more than a plaque on a wall in the foyer; employees have to make the words mean something through their actions. For a mission statement to be a living document, employees must feel that the organisation actually means what it is saying in the mission and vision statements and must develop a sense of ownership, commitment and purpose in its implementation. Critically there must be an element of trust, for without it the desired outcomes will not be achieved. Employees should be involved in the development and communication of the mission and top-level management must be committed including the CEO in mission formulation. Vision — an expression of hope:

Vision is a description of what the organisation will be like and look like when it is fulfilling its purpose. Effective visions possess four important attributes: idealism, uniqueness, future orientation and imagery. Visions are about ideals, standards, and desired future states. Effective visions are statements of destinations that provide a compass heading to where the organisation’ s leadership collectively want to go.

In just a few sentences a mission statement needs to communicate the essence of your organization to your stakeholders and to the public. For example: A mission statement...
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