What is a company’s mission statement and how do you determine it? Part 1

Posted by

If you go back to the article from a few days ago about a company’s vision, you’ll see how useful it is to flesh out what you really want to achieve. One step further in detailing the dream is the mission statement. Most often we talk about the company’s mission, but there can also be a mission for a project or some larger undertaking within the company, sometimes called an SBU – strategic business unit.

Let’s start with what a company mission statement is. It is a statement (or longer text) that includes general goals, setting the direction of action in the long term, on which all processes and resources of a company are focused. Let me emphasize: the direction of action in the long term. But how is a mission different from a vision? As I wrote earlier, a vision represented the general dreams of the management (owners and employees). A mission, however, is more specific, because it contains statements that condition the credibility of the company!

Let’s immediately use an example from a post about the company’s vision. There I presented the company vision of DHL and LOT. Now it’s time for their mission statement. I have marked with an asterisk the words that condition the credibility of the mission (and, in fact, the vision of the owners of these companies) – these are certain characteristics of the business that are easier or harder to test on numbers or by conducting social surveys. Look:

“DHL Poland, based on its knowledge* of the local market and unique* international experience, offers the highest quality* services, creating added value* for customers.”

“LOT meets* the transportation needs of corporate and individual customers flying to and from Poland in the most efficient* and innovative* way in terms of quality* and value* of service. Customer loyalty guarantees continued revenue growth and maximizes* return on capital.”

All of these asterisk* concepts could be measured in some way. The hardest thing to measure, of course, would be general phenomena such as “effective” or “innovative,” but there are ways to measure such phenomena even in rather ephemeral business areas like human resources activities.

Let’s look at some other examples of missions of well-known companies. In them, too, I’ve marked with an asterisk the statements that determine the credibility of the mission. If we want to present the mission to the public, it is worth formulating it precisely on the basis of the principle of credibility of its content.

First of all, IKEA. The mission statement is somewhat technical, you might say – manufacturing – so it may not be understood by customers as IKEA would like it to be.

“IKEA Industry’s mission is to create exceptional value* for the customer by developing production capacity*, which is our unique competitive advantage. Together – we contribute to the entire value chain by providing manufacturing expertise* and being a good example* in all aspects of the business.”

Second, Apple. The mission statement is short and clear. In fact, all the statements that condition credibility are easy to verify. You can find reports with sales results, user reviews and hardware experts. Simply and concisely.

“We provide our customers with the best* user experience through innovative* hardware, software and services.”

Third, Volkswagen. A slightly longer mission statement, but it covers all 5 questions I wrote about in the vision article. Is the company actually like that? I leave this question open, keeping in mind that a mission statement is always about the future, not the present.

“Our goal is to be a leader* in the industry in providing unparalleled quality* automotive products and services. We will constantly strive to meet* the changing needs of our customers. Our goal is to provide an atmosphere that encourages teamwork, integrity and excellence* among our employees.