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ARE MISSION STATEMENTS WORTH ANYTHING?

Posted on , in ANALOGIES & STORIES and INSIGHTS and LATEST NEWS, by

Like a missile, a joint vision can be an explosive force.

It just seems there’s something lacking if corporations don’t have a mission statement, but what value do they really have?

While it’s common for organisations and corporations to have mission/vision statements we often don’t realise that the most powerful of mission statements are in fact for nations…  We usually call them Constitutions or maybe Declarations of Independence. Usually they are boring technical legal bureaucratic rambles that we mostly ignore except maybe for the jingoistic bits, like the famous American line…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…that all men are created equal!”

(Written of course by a slave owner. I guess his slaves were not so self-evident!).

In fact constitutions of nations are an attempt to give a framework and are a ‘mission statement ‘ of structures based on intents, values and hopes for a nation.  Constitutions born out of revolutions tend to be more missionary in their statement of their mission, while constitutions like Australia’s constitution more boringly just set out administrative/legal structures and the mission is implied.

 

However, occasionally, we get an example of a mission statement that really has power.

Japan’s constitution came out of defeat and it pledges never to go war again.

It is the only constitution in the world that actually has this as part of its mission.

But I hear the cynics say… what about the Japanese Navy? –  A modern well equipped fighting force.  Well, I think they mean…The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, to give it its proper name.  But It’s got guns and a lot of them for that self-defence….

In fact, Japan, rare amongst nations, has not been at war of any kind for 70 years.

Australia has no such mission statement and has been in some war or other almost continuously for the same 70 years.

Ironically the only country to ever attack Australia directly in the last 115 years has been Japan, whereas we have been at war with someone for nearly our whole life, even from the day we were born as a nation in 1901 (Boer War).

 

Why?

Well, earlier on it was all about Britain and lately, mostly about our USA connections.  But the point is, we have never had a Japanese type mission statement. We have worked on the acceptance that we can go to war if an ally is attacked (or wants us to go with them… e.g. Vietnam).

Japan’s constitution says no to that idea.  However… Japan’s government is starting moves to change this and allow for Japan to go to war to assist allies.  Mmm… They are going to adopt our way of thinking…  Oh well! They at least had a great mission statement that was unique and it worked for 70 years….

Now they can update… Throw it out… And come to war with us…!!!!

I wonder if we could ever bring ourselves to a mission statement as powerful and as effective as the last 70 years of Japan’s mission statement?… is it at this point that we should  start discussing the life prospects of a snowball in hell?

But getting our feet on the ground again and looking more close to home…maybe we should have a look at our own corporate mission statement and think about how it works and what it can do for us?

Mission statements look good in Annual Reports and on the wall, but if they are meaningful and accepted they can actually be powerful.

 

Conclusion

Is it time to think again about that mission statement… Are you missing a valuable tool in your business arsenal?

Dr Garry Richards OAM FAIM

Dr Garry Richards OAM FAIM

“It’s all about the Management!” Quirky blogs from the "Dad"... With degrees in History, Organisational Psychology and Education and a PhD in Psychology, Dad was CEO of a national organisation at age 27 and spent the rest of his life as CEO, Director and Chairman of various boards and organisations. As an entrepreneurial CEO, Head of Research and Management Development and consultant over a wide range of enterprises and elected Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, his wide, deep experience and light-hearted spirit direct Dad's insights in these thought-provoking blogs.

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