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Judging from the online responses, corporate mission statements have proved
to be a near-universal exercise in futility...
I've never seen a customer delighted by a mission statement, although some
do get a wry chuckle out of them from time-to-time, until they've heard it
for the seventeenth time while waiting on hold for tech support.
Back when mission statements were cool, Stephen Covey's _Seven Habits of
Highly Effective People_ covered the process exhaustively. I don't think
Covey had committees of conscripts in mind as the ones to write it.
Steve Cascone of STC (Leadership Development Stem) has a good set of
exercises in _The Compleat Technical Communicator_ workshop he built a few
years ago.... [note to self: Call Steve and find out if it's online
At least Kari is a techwriter working on the mission statement: her best
bet is to poll everyone in the group, get quotes, work it up from Covey's
book, and then pass it around for review... *don't* let a committee get
ahold of it, or let everyone force a ton of changes after it's written.
Writing a mission statement is like trying to get the tech pubs crew to
order one large pizza, no one will be satisfied with the plain cheese and
crispy bread they end up with, but no one can complain about anchovies or
In a perfect world, one person with a good command of language and a grip
on the business case can write the mission statement.
Off the top of my head, a mission statement should include:
Vision (who, why)
Strategy (how and when)
Tactics (what and where)
XYZ Corp. will delight clients, partners, associates and suppliers
utilizing continuous improvement of modern best practices.
This one covers Who, and What, but doesn't adequately cover When, Where,
How, and Why... most of 'em don't.
Extreme (Joke) Example:
Leveraging Institutional Memory through Contextual
Digital Asymptotic Approximations of Application Processes suited to
utilization by Information-Constrained, Self-Actualizing
Who, When, and Why are implied only... that one was written by consultants,
and if they told their clients how to do it in one statement, wouldn't be
QRST Software, Inc. will keep customers quiet and make enough money to stay
in business through 2001 by moving manufacturing offshore and reducing R&D
costs; maximize customer mindshare by increasing our marketing and PR
offensive; crush the competition by controlling all standards in an "open"
system, buying any smaller companies with better products and overwhelming
those who refuse to cooperate via continuous legal action.
That about covers it...
Military Functional Mission Statement:
Beginning 9708091701Z, the 785th Typewriter Regiment (Comp)(Provisional)(-)
will proceed along line Alfa (Mantanikau River) to Hill 1179 (PopTart
Ridge); find, engage, and fix-or-displace unidentified elements of the
Upper Slobovian Popular Front (UpSloPF). The 785th will hold until relieved
by US or Allied forces not-yet allocated.
Note that even in Military mission statements, the "Why" is often not
explicitly stated: U/I elements of UpSloPF are on Hill 1179, General
Dreedle wants *Allied* forces on Hill 1179, and since UpSloPF forces are
the BadGuys today, the 785th have to go get them off the hill.
The "How" of this statement is also not-explicitly-stated: Colonel Brown of
the 785th will detail the "How" in *his* mission statement within the
orders for each tactical element of the unit.
Military mission statements are always temporary in nature.
Another corporate mission statement:
Vision (who and why):
XYZ Corp.'s Technical Publications division will build value for XYZ Corp,
and supply their customers with the performance support they need to get
their work done today with XYZ products by:
Strategy (what and when):
* Seeking out, evaluating, and using the latest and best practices,
applications, and processes within
our profession and the industry we serve;
+ Actively expanding our education, skills, and visibility withing
the company and our profession;
+ Making sure we never tell customers how to do something we haven't
Tactics (how and where):
* Using the Knowledge Cartography(tm) methodology,
+ TigerSTeP2000 support developers' tools, and
+ the STeP-Builder(R) 5.5 structured publishing system
... to develop comprehensive interactive product documentation,
training, practice, and feedback.
* Proactively coordinating our efforts with product development and
+ Constantly encouraging user-feedback;
+ Working as user-advocates with product design and engineering
teams to build quality
and support into the product first;
>Date: Fri, 8 Aug 1997 11:03:02 -0600
>From: Kari Alt <kdalt -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
>My Technical Communications group is in the process of developing a
>mission statement--<snip>so I am curious if any of you out there would like to
>share your mission statements or give me some ideas on what should be
Dan Brinegar, Acting Chief Deputy Assistant techwhirl "Going to Rome" Evangelist
To comment or participate in the "Going to Rome" project, send email with
"G2R" in the
subject line to <mailto:vr2link -at- giaco -dot- com>.