The process of writing a mission statement is similar whether you’re creating one for a business or for yourself. The primary goal of a mission statement is to clearly communicate purpose. An organization’s mission statement should convey why the entity exists. A personal mission statement expresses who the person is and what drives the individual.
Writing a mission statement for an organization is an important responsibility. It can seem to be an overwhelming task, but following these steps can help you accomplish the task.
Writing a company’s mission statement shouldn’t be a solo task. It should be a collaborative effort involving input from the leadership team. Many organizations also involve employees in the process.
Crafting a mission statement for an organization begins with clearly identifying the driving purpose behind the organization. This involves answering two basic questions:
- What does your company do?
- How does your company do it?
Identify your primary competitors and research to see if you can find out how their mission statements are worded. This will help you get a sense of how other businesses in your field describe their purpose and so can serve as a source of inspiration when crafting your own. Consider in particular how your business is unique from others, as that may be something to emphasize in your organization’s mission statement.
Brainstorm with the leadership team for ideas and suggestions of how your firm’s mission statement could be worded. Record the ideas that are generated, then work together to refine and fine tune the suggestions to really hone in on the key points that should be included.
Use the results of the brainstorming session to choose the direction the mission statement should take and begin writing. This can be done individually, with a committee, or with continued input from those who were involved in brainstorming.
Since it should be the driving force behind everything that is done in the organization, a good mission statement should be short (only a few sentences long) and easy to remember. Some sources recommend trying to keep it to no more than ten words, though many companies have longer mission statements. A recent study found that 29 words is the average mission statement length.
Once the collaborators have agreed on the key points to include and found a concise way to convey them, the next step is to make a decision and finalize exactly how the statement will be worded. It should accurately describe the organization’s purpose and unique way of meeting needs or solving problems in as few words as possible.
Make a list of the things you have accomplished that make you the most proud. This can help you get a sense of what really matters to you.
Make a list of the goals that are most important to you. Consider what you’d like to accomplish in the short-term, as well as in the future.
Make another list that specifies your greatest talents. Include only those things that you truly love to do.
Reflect on the lists you have made and consider what it is that you are really passionate about and want to accomplish. Chances are that what you come up with will provide insight into what you see as your primary purpose, which is otherwise known as your personal mission.
Even though you wrote a lot of lists to get to this step, most of what you wrote won’t go into the statement itself. Your personal mission statement should be very brief. The best personal mission statements tend to be just a single sentence. You should be able to remember it and use it as you make day-to-day decisions.
Before you start writing a mission statement, take the time to review several examples of mission statements for inspiration and ideas. Looking at effective examples can help you get a good sense of what to do, while reviewing poorly written examples can raise awareness of what to avoid.
While people sometimes use the terms interchangeably, a mission statement is not the same as a vision statement. While purpose is the focus of a mission statement, a vision statement is focused on the future. A vision statement is aspirational in nature, describing the imagined future state the organization or individual is striving to achieve. Most organizations have both mission and vision statements. Individuals who develop their own vision statement may also want to craft a vision statement. Learn more by reviewing examples of personal vision statements.