Jun 2, 2008

Mission Statement Wariness

Photo: Know your rights.

Adrian and I were discussing the different types of business owners out there; it isn't pretty. I've worked for three types of people:

1. The type of person who has a mission statement and follows it.
2. The type of person who has one, but only so they can use the phrase 'mission statement' when they talk to other people.
3. The type of person who's never heard of a mission statement.

Call me crazy, but I'd take #1 and #3, over #2, any day of the week. #1 is annoying in how overzealous they are in carrying out their mission statement, and #3 doesn't give a good goddamn, but #2 is a dangerous person. #2 is the type of jargon-loving asshole who considers Oprah and their mission statement a neverending source of inspiration; unfortunately, this is also the owner who listens to no one, and clings to the righteousness of their mission statement when they don't even know what it means. What's the point in having one if you don't know how to execute the things you wrote down? I think it's about having a certain type of image; the image of an enlightened being that promotes mission statement-ery. This is also the business owner who sinks the ship and then looks around, confused at what has transpired. At that point, they don't take ownership, they just wonder how tragedy could have befallen them when their mission statement was worded so carefully. As Voltaire said, "no snowflake in an avalanche ever felt responsible".

I believe a mission statement is necessary, and positive, when used for good and not evil. But oftentimes, a mission statement is just smoke and mirrors, or something for people to hide behind. I think a vision statement and a mission statement should be the barometers by which you measure your short and long-term goals; are we following these statements and making the best decisions today, which will affect us tomorrow, in two weeks, and in five years? Personally, I enjoy having a non-religious creed better. That way, you can get rid of the fancy wording and just stick to the words that inspire you; the ones most inspiring to me are 'words' and 'robots'. Maybe 'love'. Definitely 'snacks'.

I think I'll write a mission statement, one I can tattoo onto a body part somewhere. My vision statement can go on my forehead, and my creed can be tattooed onto my knuckles (so I can be hardcore). This should go quite nicely with the Bill of Rights face tattoo I want the Esq to get. This is a good idea.


barbjensen said...

Ooooh, Bill of Rights face tattoo.

FreNeTic said...

The Mission Statement is a sore spot with me. I've been in meetings over several weeks where I couldn't help calculating in my mind how much $ was required to come up with a department mission statement: you know, so the staff would feel involved.

I think it came to about 5K for the "think tank" portion - I'm uninformed on the price of printing up the placards that, yes, were required for it. I guess from a staff and shareholder standpoint, I would just as soon have the Mission Statement dictated to me.

I'm now setting out on putting a value on NOT having goals. Risk assessment!

Snotty McSnotterson said...

I'm okay with mission statements, overall, it's the people who misuse them. That being said, most companies misuse them and bastardize them until it reads like 1984 or something.

Manthony said...

How about we dispense with mission statements and just issue appropriate snacks?