This generic phrasing, however, does not aid in the differentiation. As a consumer, what about a mission statement such as that would draw me to one company vs. another? “In essence, the mission statement defines the direction in which the organization is heading and how it will succeed in reaching its desired goal” (Peter & Donnelly 8). An article for Demand Media, written by Elizabeth Smith and titled Five Criteria for a Mission Statement, gives a fairly succinct breakdown of what you should look for when both analyzing and writing a mission statement.
Smith first directs us that a mission statement be informative. “Conveying the overall goal of the organization and giving insight into the idea that guides each project and decision” (Smith). The informational aspect of the mission statement is particularly important because it sends a message to both potential customers, and to the internal employees to reflect back on when making project decisions. “The mission statement should strike a balance of clarifying the purpose within the field and provide some form of inspiration as well” (Smith). Next, your mission statement should be simple.
Too often and organization will attempt a grandly worded mission statement that results in confusion and excessive wording that detracts from the meaning and purpose. “When it comes to mission statements, too much detail can dilute the overall meaning” (Smith). Furthermore, and most concerning, a long winded and complex mission statement can result in leaving the reader with a vague impression. Since this is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to convey, it further drives home a need for simplicity. In conjunction with the simplicity of the mission statement, the next thing to consider is how memorable it is/will be.
“A mission statement can help guide the actions of employees and decisions but not if it is impossible to remember” (Smith). A solid mission statement, while being short and simple, should also inspire action and utilize wording that supports this desire. Moving on to what I personally consider to be one of the most important aspects of the mission statement is achievability. What good is it to write up a grand statement that promises the world if it isn’t attainable? You will only be setting the organization up for failure, the consumers for disappointment, and the employees for frustration.
A strong mission statement gives staff something concrete to work on and a larger goal to work towards while creating a balance between what you do and what you’re capable of doing (Smith). Finally, employee buy-in. As mentioned earlier, the mission statement is just as crucial to the employees of an organization as it is to the potential consumer. If the organization adopts a mission statement that the employees don’t feel represents them adequately, then their motivation and productivity will reflect and the organization will suffer. Peter and Donnelly has a slightly more succinct explanation of what a mission statement should entail.
According to them, “in developing a statement of mission, management must take into account three key elements; the organization’s history, its distinctive competencies, and its environment” (9). It goes without saying that every organization has a history of some sort. Whether founded by 2 people in a dark room with aspirations for great things, or conceived of by a board room of people as a spin-off from an existing organization, they all have “a history of objectives, accomplishments, mistakes, and policies. In formulating a mission, the critical characteristics and events of the past must be considered” (Peter and Donnelly 9).
The 2nd part of an organization’s mission statement should focus on the organizations distinctive competencies. Many competitive organizations in today’s market encompass a wide array of ‘things’ it can perform or complete. However, at the core of the mission statement should be the one thing they do the best. Their fundamental foundation the company was founded against. “Distinctive competencies are things that an organization does well – so well in fact that they give it an advantage over similar organizations” (Peter & Donnelly 9). Finally, the organization’s environment.
According to Peter and Donnelly, “the organizations environment dictates the opportunities, constraints, and threats that must be identified before a mission statement is developed. ” This is a step that can often be overlooked by marketing executives. The awareness necessary to be able to recognize constraints and threats can be a sticking point to developing a quality mission statement. Many times people can be too focused on the opportunities to not see the potential hurdles that may need to be included when considering the operational environment.
Now I will apply these two schools of thought to the selected Starbucks mission statement which is: “Our mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time. ” In a straight analysis, the question could be asked, “do I feel informed by this mission statement? ” I think the answer is yes. If you were to ask me after reading this statement, “how will Starbucks accomplish their mission,” I would be able to reply by saying they intend to place their retail stores in neighborhood areas and focus on the individual sales to specific consumers.
I feel that this statement is extremely simple as it seems to cut straight through any amount of vagary and tells me, in very few words, precisely what I can expect from this organization. Hand in hand with this I feel is the achievability of the mission. In keeping it simple and short, they haven’t created a mountain for them to try and overcome. Which finally, I feel is something any employee of this organization should be able to get behind. They aren’t being asked to move mountains or even be overly elaborate, just sell one cup at a time.
To apply this mission statement to Peter and Donnelly’s methods however, requires a little more thought. At a glance I don’t see much in the way of history captured in the succinct mission statement provided. But, given public knowledge of Starbucks, it isn’t too challenging to connect the link between the reality of their past and the fact that their current mission statement reflects the method they have employed since first opening their doors. In terms of competencies, Starbucks makes coffee and their mission statement declares their intent to do just think.
Finally, the environment. This is something I think is mission from most mission statements, as I mentioned earlier, but Starbucks seems to have captured it in a subtle way. They mention their desire to do their mission in local neighborhoods. This tells you a lot of information. An average person should be able to extrapolate from that short statement the locations (residential vs. largely urban) locations, which would imply a storefront size, and possibly the necessary employee base per location.
In this way, I feel that Starbucks has not only given us a quite literal version of the environment they’ll operate in but has also hinted at several of the constraints and opportunities that exist as well. Based on the two methods used to evaluate a mission statement, I feel it is safe to say that Starbucks clearly put some time and effort into what they wished theirs to say. It not only captures all expected aspects of traditional mission statements, but does it in a way that most continue to struggle towards.