Dust Off Your Mission Statement
Our Declaration of Independence says that, “All men are created equal,” and yet at the time it was written, there was slavery in America. Did that mean the Declaration of Independence was of no use? Since some of our nation’s founding fathers were not totally living up to its tenets or standards, should our country have abandoned it? God forbid!
Frederick Douglass, the great African-American reformer and orator during the Civil War, used the power of the Declaration’s great words and ideals to hold our government accountable, at one point saying, “See, you are not living up to your own words, in your own written document!”
This most-coveted document, along with our Constitution, is still sworn to today—by U. S. presidents, senators and others—as the “true north” guide for our nation. Our courts and judges measure our laws against both of these founding documents to determine whether our laws are on course. Many have shed their blood to uphold the freedoms these extraordinary “Mission Statements” afford us.
Your “Mission Statement” and “Code of Ethics” should act as the company’s founding documents, or Declaration of who you are. All of your company policies should be measured against it. In fact, ALL documents in your company’s written “Operations Manual” (pdf) should strengthen your “Mission Statement.”
A “Mission Statement” can become mere words on a piece of paper and be left to gather dust somewhere; or, it can become an active, living document, guiding you as you work toward your goals—building a great company or organization.
Years ago, as I was developing our company’s systems, I thought to call the company of an author of one of the books that had particularly inspired me. I was surprised when I was put directly into voicemail, where I left a message. Judging by the author’s books, I felt certain this guy was so systematic that I would hear back from him immediately. But, a week went by and no response. So I called again—more voicemail.