Mission Impossible

New Years. It is kind of a weird holiday; jammed on the end of Christmas break. It kind of creates a weird in-between time after Christmas and before New Years Day. Nonetheless, many businesses have a company holiday on New Years day. This gives time for pause… to consider the year ahead. It is a time for making resolutions and goal setting. Not just personal resolutions and goals, but for setting professional targets and corporate alignment.

These days it is apparently imperative for every company, organization, and individual to have a mission statement. These well-intentioned statements aim to define the essence of the entity. In order to prevent myopic growth and limiting opportunities, these statements are often made broad…too broad. They end up having little actual meaning. That does not stop the brass from spending a sizable chunk of the profit-sharing dollars on high paid image consultants to develop the perfect mission statement.

Despite the dollars spent and "expert" advice, these typically end up sounding the same. Something like: “To provide world class (enter product category) enabling (enter people or businesses) to achieve (pick one: improved quality of life, efficient operation, value add, or world peace).”
Actually, they sound quite a bit like a Miss America response to the proverbial “if you had one wish” question.

Of course, the actual mission of every company is the same: “To make money!”

Not happy with this gravy train, the paid consultants inform us that the mission statement is only part of our strategic plan. For a complete plan, we must also have a vision statement. Not to be confused with the mission statement that reflects the present, the vision statement paints the picture of the desired future. And guess what? For just a little extra dough the consultants can help conjure up a vision statement that aligns with the expensive mission statement. A special package deal!

The vision statement is to provide inspiration, and direction. Notwithstanding copious available software and consultant help, these too end up sounding more or less similar: “To become the undisputed worldwide leader in (enter superset of current business).”

Of course the actual vision of every company is the same “To make a lot more money”

Just when you are ready to put that corporate checkbook away, the consultants remind you that it does no good to have mission and vision statements if there is no plan to reach the vision. Strategic goals must be identified to draw closer to the vision. And, guess what? Yep, you got it. They just happen to have some expertise in this process. Surely we could work out a deal.

Goals are the targeted steps toward achieving the vision. These should be aligned throughout the organizational hierarchy so that individuals can identify personal goals to support those of their management. These goals end up being very vague at the top such as “Deliver a complete portfolio of best-in-class products.” The next level down aligns with something like “Deliver (enter specific function) to support a complete portfolio of best-in-class products.” Wow! … That is insightful.

Anyway, the actual goals, corporate and personal, are the same: “Make more money”.

I have an idea! Quit spending so much money developing all these statements and get to work.
Mr. Franklin said it best: “A penny saved is a penny earned.”