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October 9th, 2012

As some of you may know we recently rebranded Incite International.  It was such a looong and interesting process (sometimes in the “green eggs and ham” kind of interesting, if you know what I mean), even the local press got curios!  Smart CEO Magazine contacted me when they learned that not only do we help other companies craft mission statements, we’re now in the process of creating our own.  “Let’s see if they practices what they preaches,” they probably thought.  I really enjoyed the interview and thought I’d post it to this blog – some of you are probably going through this very process and hopefully will find it of value. 


Q:  Discuss the thought process behind crafting a mission statement. 
A:  A mission statement should reflect the company’s core values and purpose for existence.  It defines the business’ identity and “reason for being”.  It needs to be deeply meaningful not only to the founders but also to those who are expected to fulfill the mission on a daily basis, as well as to clients and stakeholders.  It sets the tone for the culture and brand of the entire organization.

Q: How does the mission statement help orient the company internally?
A:  If done correctly, the mission statement can become a driving force behind the company’s brand, strategy and even daily decisions.  It tells everyone why they’re there and what they stand for.  It helps them decide which projects to take on and whom to hire (clearly, those who resonate with the mission). 

Q:  Do some organizations do this better than others?  What are the drawbacks of a mission statement?
A:  I’ve noticed that for many of my smaller non-profit and small business clients it’s easier to stay connected to their mission.  Often, they are ones who create it and are quite passionate about making sure that the new hires are really onboard with the spirit of their mission. 

As entities grow and hire more people, some don’t do as good of a job in communicating the mission or making sure it remains a part of the organizational fiber.  Sometimes mission statements are created as a “should” rather than emerge naturally from the company’s deep-held beliefs.  It then becomes used as a PR slogan or a nice thing to put on the wall rather than the articulation of organizational “being”.  In these cases, employees (and clients eventually) see that the mission statement is nothing but letters on a plaque and there is a lack of congruency between what the company says and does.  This can lead to cynicism and dissatisfaction in the workplace, particularly if employees joined because they resonated with the stated mission.  

Q:  What do you hope to communicate to clients through sharing your mission statement?
A:  At Incite, we want to work with clients whose values compel them towards like-minded vendors and partners.  Our best clients have chosen us because they strongly resonate what we stand for and how we do business.  Their mission (backed by deep-rooted values), perhaps unconsciously, guided them to select a company whose values and mission they also passionately believed in.   And, we don’t work with clients whose mission we inherently can’t support (because that would be out of alignment with our own – see how it works both ways?)

Q:  Can the statement change over time? Why or why not? Do you foresee it changing in the future?

  Perhaps the articulation of the statement might change, but not significantly once the brand is fully developed.  That’s because once you create something with deep resonance, there is no need to change it.  It just is. 

Q:  If you were speaking to another CEO who was looking to create a mission statement, what advice would you give, based on your experiences?
A:  Take your time, articulate the values that drive the company and get employees at all involved.  Create an effective communication campaign to make sure everyone understands what the mission statement is, why it’s important, and most importantly, how the company culture and employee expectations will be driven by this mission.  Oh, and hire us to help with the process!  (FYI, the last self-promotional plug I didn’t actually say in the interview, but I was thinking it really loudly ;) 



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