Re: Mission Statements

Subject: Re: Mission Statements
From: "Parks, Beverly" <ParksB -at- EMH1 -dot- HQISEC -dot- ARMY -dot- MIL>
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 1997 06:43:43 -0700

Tim Altom wrote:
For example, let's say your mission statement is "To be the industry
in documentation quality." That sounds as formless as any mission
anywhere. First, is your team totally on board with this goal and ready
make sacrifices? If not, back down the grandiose language. If so, move
Define how you'll measure this. What's your plan? Maybe it's:

1. Compile a library of manuals from every one of our competitors;
2. Assign a review team to read, analyze, and report on every manual,
good and bad points;
3. Assign a team to review our own documentation for flaws and good
4. Design a new system of style sheets and templates to incorporate all
the good points from both sources;
5. Produce sample manuals;
6. Do end-user usability studies;
7. Submit manuals to every competition they'll fit into;
8. Have it all done within 12 months;
9. Repeat every two years.

Now the mission statement has teeth. There's a plan, there's a deadline,
there's a measurement standard, and there's a mission statement that
justifies all of this. Now, all you need is to ensure that management is
board, too, so there's a perception of unwavering support.

The objectives are great, but I don't see why you need the mission
statement to define them. Does somebody's mission statement say "To be
second-best in documentation quality" or maybe "To be almost as
successful as Microsoft"?

If you want to call the mission statement a starting point, a place to
say "okay, here's the goal, how do we get there?" that's fine. But it
shouldn't be something framed in gold and idolized by all employees. The
objectives are another story. They can be displayed, perhaps with some
sort of progress meter for meeting them. Something dynamic. A static
sign of some lame mission statement will become just as invisible as the
photo of corporate headquarters on the wall of the lobby.

Your last sentence that I quoted above -- "Now, all you need is to
ensure that management is on board, too, so there's a perception of
unwavering support." -- is the downfall of most quality programs, IMO.

Beverly Parks
parksb -at- emh1 -dot- hqisec -dot- army -dot- mil

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