Friday, December 30, 2011

Mission Statement Makeover: Four more entrants

This post continues our review of entries in this year’s mission statement competition (see the previous post and CI#7: On Mission for background). More to follow.

As noted in the initial post, we are omitting organization names from the Makeover submissions. Organizations are welcome to mention them in the discussion thread.

3 Children’s services

Mission statement:
[org]’s mission is to ensure that children have the fundamental assets they need to thrive: a safe and secure home life; educational excellence and opportunity ; and health and sexuality education.

The case for a makeover:
“The mission statement as it stands is way too long. We need a statement that our employees can remember, something pithy and impactful. ”

The initial phrase of your current statement (“to ensure that children have the fundamental assets they need to thrive”) sounds like a broad statement of mission, but then to focus it more, you resort to what and how, rather than why.

There are two promising phrases at the end of the history section of your website:

“strengthen families and reduce the need for foster care [by] address[ing] the underlying causes of families in crisis”

This may be a mission statement. What do you think? We can discuss this using the comment feature.

4 Collaborative improvement initiative

Mission statement:
The [org]’s mission is to empower and improve the quality of life for [area] residents through catalytic investments and systematic change.

The case for a makeover:
“The [org]’s mission statement is an excellent candidate for a makeover because as a Living Cities Integration Initiative site, our work is unlike many other NPOs, who focus on one or two issues. We are focused on creating change across the public, private and philanthropic sectors through collaborative efforts in eight different areas in three short years. Our work is centered on causing this change in several adjacent neighborhoods that have drastically different socio-economic populations, built environments and private investment levels. At the center of our work are the people who make up the community we are working hard to serve. While our current mission statement reflects a very broad overview of what we do, it truly doesn’t express the difference our work strives to make for the people living and working in the [area]. As a project that is operating under the guidance of ten different organizations across a variety of sectors, we would like to learn how to develop a mission statement that address the global work of the project equally influenced by the collective work of all the organizations that make up our Governance Council. ”

Actually, “to improve the quality of life for [area] residents through catalytic investments and systematic change” seems to capture your mission quite well as you describe it in your makeover case. The other aspects of your effort—your disparate partners, sectors, and neighborhoods, the individual identities on your Governance Council, and your short time frame—can be captured in subsidiary statements that elaborate on the mission statement. If you try to say more in the base statement, you may just weaken its impact.

Often the best approach is to always post the mission statement (in print or on your website) with additional clarifying information: statements of vision, values, and/or principles, listings of your communities, council members and other partners, and some of the initiatives you have in process.

If this doesn’t sound like it’s the approach you need, let’s discuss through the blog’s comment feature and see what else we can discover.

5 Technology provider

Mission statement:
[org] is committed to assisting Jewish organizations in their efforts increase their professionalism and relationship-building capacity through the effective use of technology, by providing internet strategy, general technology, marketing and communications consulting, training and professional development opportunities. [org] believes that every Jewish organization should have the opportunity to function at this high level, regardless of the size of the organization or its budget, and we work to reduce barriers to achieving this level of service to their customers, members and prospects.

The case for a makeover:
“We have made a strategic shift in the last couple years, but the mission statement has not been updated. I feel it says more about our services than our mission. And completely does not capture the uniqueness of our work and impact in our field. ”

One simple and effective technique is to describe conversationally to an uninformed friend or relative what you’re trying to achieve. By listening to what you say, and by answering the basic questions you get in that conversation, you can often discover the nuggets you need for your more formal communications.

You’ve begun to do that in your case for a makeover. What is the strategic shift you have made, and why did you make it? What do you do differently? What are your most fundamental services within your list of “internet strategy, general technology, marketing and communications consulting, training and professional development opportunities”? Why? In what way are you unique? What is your impact?

You can pursue these questions on your own, or if you’d like to use the comment feature of the blog, we’ll ask you some more refined ones.

6 Design museum

Mission statement:
The [name] Museum of Design of the University of [x] is an educational and cultural institution that advances the understanding and appreciation of design and cultivates an awareness that designed objects can contribute to quality of life through effective solutions to human challenges and aesthetic satisfaction.

The case for a makeover:
“As a mission statement, it is long. [name] is an academic museum, so the staff was seeking to include connections to both the university and community in the statement. I would like to see the mission be more user-focused. ”

Within your current statement is what appears to a good core: “[to] advance the understanding and appreciation of design and its contribution to quality of life”. Do you need to say more than that? Everything else seems secondary, and can be accommodated in statements that typically accompany the mission statement.

“Effective solutions to human challenges and aesthetic satisfaction,” are really only two examples of the way design contributes to quality of life. Doesn’t flagging them unnecessarily restrict the mission?

Let’s discuss.

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