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What Mission Are We On?

By Ryan Rieches

Yogi Berra is famous for his thought provoking quotes. One that stands out for me is – “When you come to a fork in the road…. Take it”. The unfortunate reality is that for many organizations, they apply this kind of hap hazard approach when choosing which path they should follow as the lure of a new destination is just too great to pass up. Yet often, they end up at a dead end or worse; a path that leads to challenges threatening the entire organization.

When a clear plan or vision has been identified, however, choosing the correct path becomes a much easier decision. Here’s another great Yogi-ism that demonstrates the importance of deciding on a destination – “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there”?  Only Yogi could offer two random thoughts and have them work so beautifully together to illustrate the roles of corporate Vision and Mission statements working hand in hand.  As an example of how each of the core statements fit together, here is a quick recap of RiechesBaird’s definition, along with how our statements build upon each other:

Purpose – Why we exist: “Create & Inspire”

Vision – What we aim to achieve: “Build the world’s most successful B2B brands”

Mission – How we plan to achieve our vision: “Find greatness and promote it fearlessly”

Often, choosing the destination is the easy part. The challenge becomes more difficult when deciding on and committing to a plan to get there. I find the best way is to focus on the primary strategies or initiatives and make sure they are clear enough so people can understand and become motivated by them. Please don’t try to pack everything in as it will become too burdensome and ultimately forgettable. Focus on an encompassing idea that ties back to your Vision. Here are three examples of Mission Statements to consider:

Google’s Mission – to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Microsoft’s Mission – to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

Twitter’s Mission – to instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most meaningful to them.

In many cases, companies choose to only publish their mission statements. This could be for a number of reasons. Maybe they don’t share our same philosophy or definitions of the core statements outlined earlier. Or they might be hesitant to publish their vision as it might tip off competitors to the destination they seek. Or their vision could be seen as arrogant or boastful. Often vision statements are kept for internal eyes only and used to rally and guide internal teams. On the other hand, when openly communicated, they can offer clarity to all involved. Here is a recent example of NASA’s statements and you can see how nicely they fit together.

NASA’s Vision is: “To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown,
so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.”

NASA’s Mission is: “Drive advances in science, technology, and exploration
to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality,
and stewardship of Earth.”

This new vision doesn’t have the same clarity or urgency that JFK proclaimed in the early 1960’s, when he announced “We will put a man on the moon and return him safely within the decade”. The clarity of that statement was beautiful and emotionally powerful. I am not sure if they developed a mission statement to complement it, but it obviously worked to unite everyone involved to clearly understand – What mission they were on.