If you asked 10 employees to state your Mission – how many could do it? How consistent would they be?
Whether or not you are a fan of Barry Manilow, you are likely familiar with the song Bruce Johnston penned and Manilow made famous. And if you aren’t familiar with the 1976 Grammy-winning, Billboard number one tune, ‘I Write the Songs’, I suggest you listen.
‘I Write the Songs’ is one of the most successful examples of a mission statement you’ll ever find. Simple and effective, it gets the message across in four words.
There are many interpretations of the song’s lyrics but those four words that Manilow has crooned to audiences for more than 40 years have come to be associated with him. If you were to play a game of trivia and the question was, ‘Who writes the songs that make the whole world sing?’, most people would respond, ‘Barry Manilow’.
A mission statement is an organization’s way to answer the simple question, ‘What does your organization do or what does your company want to accomplish?’. The question is simple, yet many organizations fail to effectively answer it.
Experienced writers painfully and frustratingly understand that it is much more difficult to convey an effective message using fewer words. Writing with economy takes time and is often undervalued yet will yield substantial dividends when invested in a mission statement. Creating an effective mission statement requires an economy of words. Perhaps nowhere more than a mission statement will needless jargon weigh down an organization yet the statement lays the foundation and direction for everyone. If you can’t effectively describe who you are or what you want to accomplish, how can you expect others to know?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re likely reading this from home. Curious as to how your mission statement really comes across? Want a mission statement that describes what you do without needless jargon? There’s no need to schedule a Zoom meeting. Some of you can take advantage of a resource that isn’t typically sitting in your boardroom. Walk downstairs or in the next room and talk with your kids.
If you happen to know someone in middle school – consult with them. They’ll quickly push aside how much you leverage, empower and optimize – they won’t be impressed with how actionable you are. They’ll simply want to know what is it you’re trying to say.
Of course, this seems silly and perhaps an over-simplification of a serious undertaking, but the point is made. We spend too much time using too many words that fall flat.
Your most effective message will always be the simplest to understand and the easiest to remember. If you write the songs, then simply say so. There’s no need to explain more than that.
Make it meaningful,