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Strategic Principle #1: Mission is Critical

In setting your corporate strategic plan, the most critical activity is right at the outset: selecting and crafting the right mission statement. In an organization of any kind that is functioning at a highly productive level, achieving alignment throughout the enterprise is of paramount importance. It is the mission statement that creates the opportunity for total alignment of all departments.

Mission is critical for an organization to demonstrate successful growth and profitability over an extended period of time. Most companies show growth and profitability at times and in spurts. Those that have consistent growth and profitability over extended time periods most likely have well thought out mission statements documented and communicated. Here is why.

Mission statements clarify the purpose of the business for leaders, employees and for customers. When adhered to, it governs all decision making to keep the organization in alignment towards achievement of the overall vision of the founders. With everyone on the same mission, decision making can be delegated to managers and employees. This enables leaders and organizations to migrate their businesses from hierarchical-structured, transactional businesses to a servant-leadership, transformational businesses model. Without a mission statement that is well communicated and prescribed to by the entire enterprise, this is not possible. A transformational business will out-perform a hierarchical business and deliver higher profits.

Mission statements will accelerate long-term growth by harnessing all available resources towards achievement of what is important. Growth companies are presented with many opportunities for business development and expansion. A concise mission statement with specific outcomes can keep valuable corporate resources focused on the right activities. Answer the simple question: does this alternative support mission? If not, say no and move on. If the answer is that it does, give it further consideration and make sure it fits into the overall strategy. In all of the organizations that I have been part of, this one question has guided me through countless decisions. Corporate resources are scarce and valuable. Everyone needs to make sure they are used for mission critical activities.

Mission statements are often created in conjunction with a vision statement. The vision statement is the ‘utopia’ condition that the founders or current leaders believe is possible to achieve and the underlying justification for the business to exist. The mission statement is the concise statement of what we are going to do and why. It needs to be only one sentence and should be fairly simple. The more complex it is, the more it can be interpreted differently by others. Everyone who reads it should understand it, interpret it the same way, and be able to recite it on their own without looking it up on the corporate website.

Mission statements are the result of strategic planning, and they are the critical component of the strategic plan. Use your strategic planning time and resources to ensure that your mission statement is accurate and pertinent for the business you are in today. Mission is critical.

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