Organization & Leadership Consulting

Is Your Mission a ‘Maybe’, a ‘Moment’, or a ‘Movement’?

A company's mission, vision, and values next to an hourglass

Q #1: How do you respond to overused terminology in a mission statement? 


Are the terms “mission” and “mission statement” in that category for you? Well, hang in there for another 393 words and see if you gain a new insight or two. We think you will.

Something familiar: Any mission statement describes what an organization does and who it does that thing for. It is a descriptive “what” & “for whom” statement of the business you are in. An effective mission statement is a short, visually imaginative description of the difference made for a specific group. That difference can be broad or narrow and the group can be global or individual. Whichever is true, without a well-defined, clearly stated, and overly communicated mission, the individuals within the organization end up drawing their own mental picture of it. 


Q #2: Would you rather work where there is one clearly stated “This is what we do and who we do it for!” focus for everyone’s time and energy, or work where there are multiple and varied statements vying for hearts, minds, and resources?


It takes commitment to people’s well-being to put the energy necessary into clarifying, understanding, and communicating a clear mission. That well-being includes employees’ and customers/clients’. Why commitment? Doing it well is work. The terms ‘mission’ and ‘vision’ are often used interchangeably, but actually serve distinct purposes. A mission offers clear internal understanding of what the organization is doing for external customers. Vision on the other hand describes what the organization will be for the sake of others. (More on that in a blog coming later this month.)

Something less familiar: Depending on a variety of factors, the “mental picture” of a mission, regardless of actual wording, likely falls under one of three categories:

C: “Maybe” – A dispassionate attempt at completing the “required” task of putting something in writing. “That’s done. Now let’s get to work.”

B: “Moment” – A half-hearted attempt at identifying a “What” and a “Who” that results in occasional moments of energized alignment and focused effort.

A: “Movement” – A whole-hearted digging into where external needs, organizational characteristics, and internal passions overlap.

We submit that “C” will require more energy from leaders in the long run, and not generate much additional energy within the ranks at all; “B” will generate occasional bursts of energy, renewed output, and valued outcomes; and “A” will end up generating more energy within the organization than it took to discover.


If you want a guide to help you discover where the generative overlaps are in your people and organization, contact TurningWest – Your Guide to Healthy Human Work Systems.

-by Megan Sands and Joel Rude


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