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.
Remembering how this man had written extensively about good systems and customer service, the third time I called I was determined to remind him of his “Declaration”—his own words. Hearing the man’s familiar voicemail prompt again, I repeated my name and number and left the following message:
“I am really disappointed that no one has gotten back to me. I felt sure you would have had a simple system in place to check voicemails and return calls.”
Almost immediately, I received a phone call from one of the company’s managers, as well as an e-mail from the author himself. As Frederick Douglass had done, I simply used their own written document to remind them they should practice what they teach.
Have you dusted off your “Mission Statement” lately?
Every business needs to have a “Mission Statement”—a written statement of the vision, purpose and goals of the company. If your company doesn’t have one, I believe you would find it extremely beneficial to write one, and then stand on those principles going forward. There’s an old saying that goes, “He who aims at nothing, hits nothing!”
Many companies have written a well-intentioned “Mission Statement”—even framed it and put it on a wall. But, how often, I wonder, do they bother to re-read it, or even remember what it says. I believe many “Mission Statements” get stashed in a drawer or discarded altogether.
THE KEY — Implement the best systems and processes to ensure your company will reach its goals, live up to its “Mission Statement” and give you freedom from chaos.
After spending a dozen years totally systemizing our business, hoping to free up my personal life, I can tell you that:
Order from chaos doesn’t just happen! Truth is, fulfilling your Mission to build a strong company takes a lot of blood, sweat and long hours, but freedom is its own reward!
Truth is—Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.