Re: Mission Statements

Subject: Re: Mission Statements
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 12:57:00 EST

At 12:44 PM 10/4/96 EDT, you wrote:
>John Stamps mentioned in his post that he had just gotten back from the dreaded
>"developing a department mission statement" meeting. Anyone who goes to one of
>these and can't write at least 10 good Dilberts on the way home just isn't
>paying attention.

>Not that having missions and visions is a bad thing. It's the MEETING that
>s*cks. People waxing philisophical off the top of their heads in a
>never-ending spiral toward something that's bland enough for everyone to sign
>up to.

>We did one here (before Chipcom became part of 3Com), and came away with a
>servicable statement that could apply to almost any Tech Pubs department. This
>got me thinking: Why don't I just post ours, let the list modify it, and give
>the world a mulit-millions dollar productivity saver:

>A GENERIC TECH PUBS MISSION STATEMENT

>Armed with this, you can show up at the offsite and say: "here." Then you and
>your co-workers can spend the rest of the day bonding and eating the free food.

>Anyway, here's our current statement, developed during an all day offsite (with
>followup meetings by the Mission Statement Committee):

>"Technical Publications educates and informs customers by developing usable and
>creative documentation which allows customers to effectively use (insert your
>name here) products. By advocating users during product development, we promote
>and contribute to product usability, which minimizes Customer Support costs."

>You can add "both internal and external" after customers for an extra touch of
>pizazz.

>Bob
>Bob_Handlin -at- 3mail -dot- 3com -dot- com


You're right. It sounds like it has no taste, as if it was written by the
Monty Python gang in a movie.

I think of mission statements differently. If you've ever been in the
military, you'll know that missions are usually accompanied by briefings for
the specifics, but the actual mission statement is fairly brief: "Take that
hill...", "Silence that gun...", "Pull out of that position and re-establish
one here..." Specific, clear and to the point. The details are left to
discretion and trust in past training.

Mission statements aren't tepid and wandering wish statements. They're terse
and direct expressions of what you'd order somebody to do if you only had
ten seconds before you died. "Get this information out to our users and make
sure they can make use of it when it gets there." Something like that. It's
a statement that you can spit out at a new employee and he or she would know
immediately what was expected. Then trust to the newbie's discretion to
carry it out.

I've never understood why it is that tech doc'ers, who presumably know the
adage that good writing is actually deletion of the unnecessary, produce
such long-winded and cringing mission statements.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support
FrameMaker-to-HTML Conversions
HTML Help Consulting and Production

http://www.simplywritten.com/simply


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