Mission statements have become a very common business tool with more than 50% of the companies in USA and UK having some form of mission statement. It has been realized that there is a need to clarify to the employees the purpose and philosophy of the company. The recognition of the importance of organization culture has created the interest in the purpose of setting up a kind of a message, highlighting the company purpose and management philosophy. It has realized, that the middle management is always becoming more and more demanding of their organization, and regularly asking for clarifications of direction of purpose and values, and the "inner identity" of the corporate.
As a result, the corporate, in searching for the right tool to help them manage, has come with mission statements, where it has tried to put forth the company's identity, its purpose, and a philosophy, for a better management of the organization. But, regardless of the attention being given to mission statements, there is little understanding as to what such a statement should include, and what role it has to play in the management of the company's identity or culture. These facts have been gathered after extensive research, involving interviews with managers, and studying in-numerable mission statements from all over the world.
There is a need to understand how an organization can enthide commitment amongst its managers and employees, and what should a mission statement play in this process. The word 'Mission' of a corporate would generally mean the identification of the organization's character, and the reason for its very existence. A mission statement should be characterized by projecting four parts of an organization: purpose, strategy, values, and behavior standards. The "Strategy" would address the nature of business, meaning, the organization's position vis-à-vis their competitors. It includes the source of the organization's competitive edge. The "Behavior Standards" would define the norms and rules that the organization follows, "Values" would be the principles of the moral value that forms the base of the behavior standards, and "Beliefs" would be the very faith on which the organization has was built upon, a faith which has been drilled into the organization by its founding dynasty.
There are frustrations in business processes. These frustrations evolve with the business having no definite purpose or direction. It has become so necessary for organizations to put forth a mission, which provides a clear business conception, its purpose, and its mission.
"A strong sense of corporate identity is as important as slavish adherence to business unit financial results". Michael Porter1.
The question comes up, how to practice what is written in a mission statement, such as the one which says, 'to reach beyond minimal'. Beliefs are said to be the signposts, guides, and goals of the organization, which are open to discussions. It becomes a document forming base on which the company exists.
"Beliefs are another professional tool of management to be utilized to reach our common goals". James Bere2.
"I recently visited the local office of a company that for many years has prided itself on its elegantly worded mission statement. Indeed. asked me if there was anything else I wanted. he asked. 'You know.' I told him 'that document on the wall as you walk in.' He was completely mystified. I finally took him over to the door and showed him what I was talking about. I left him staring at the mission statement, open mouthed and reading it, no doubt, for the first time. " Laura Nash3
In preparing a mission statement, the suggestion for the need of one may come from an external consultant. This, he may suggest, as a requirement to help and unite the company. In writing such a statement, the questions that are asked, in an attempt to write a mission statement, often brings out the gaps that the senior management has in its thinking process. The pressure in describing an organizations strategy, and management approach, also comes from the financial institutions or communities. This acts as external stimuli in forming a document, concluding that of a mission statement. The present need for a mission statement is also felt, when analysts and financial commentators become critical about the function of the managers, who lack strong commitment for the company's vision, activities, and management style.
The requirement for a mission statement also comes from within the company, becoming internal stimuli. There are three sources for such stimuli. The first one develops from the internal audience, such as, the section of middle management, wanting clarifications on where the company is heading to, and what the company stands for. The second source may come from the company executives themselves, having deep differences in opinion immerging out of discussions relating to the future of the company, and in the matter of company governance. The Chief Executive himself could be the third source, who may find that there is a need for a change in strategy and culture, and may re-write the mission of the organization, and communicate the change down the line. This change could have been on the basis of a new rule.
1 Michael E Porter – 'From Competitive Advantage to Corporate Strategy'. Harvard Business Review, May- June, 1987. P 52
2 James Bere, Chief executive Officer. Borg-Warner Corporation. Quoted in Harvard Business School, Case No 383-091. 'The Beliefs of Borg-Warner'.
3 Laura Nash – 'Mission Statements – Mirrors and Windows'. Harvard Business Review, March-April 1988 p. 155.
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Source by Prabir Sen