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While our publications department at my former company did not have its own
mission statement, with great fanfare the executive management rolled one
out for the company. It consisted of a statement of the company's goal and
its "core values," which the execs had pulled out of the air and expected
all employees to align themselves with.
The core values were in eight non-parallel, bulleted points statements with
the bullets at the end of the lines. One of the "values" was "Being
responsive underlines everything we do." The last one actually began with
"And." I always wanted my manager to ask me to recite one of the core values
so I could blurt, "AND (blah, blah)."
This brainchild was published on posters displayed everywhere in the office
buildings. Our pubs team enjoyed a very smug grin when we passed them. We
would gladly have helped with editing if we had been asked, but we never
were. My first and only meeting with our chief operating officer explained
why, I think. I introduced myself as a member of the publications
department. "Good, good!" he mildly said. A few moments later into our
conversation, he said, "So, what does the publications department do?" When
I told him, he seemd quite surprised.
Anyway, my take on mission statements (even properly edited ones) is that
they give the illusion of having established something profound, without the
difficulty of actually doing so. Mission statements have credibility only
outside of the groups that create them; they're for impressing people who
don't really understand what you do for a living.
Most importantly, they keep you from sitting your butt down in the chair and
writing, to paraphrase one of my favorite contributors to this list.