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Mission Critical: What is a Mission Statement?

We’ve already discussed the importance of Vision in My Blog Post “The importance of “Visioning” to Performance Management” Part 1 & Part 2. Now it’s time to go through the Mission statement.

A Mission statement provides all internal and external stakeholders a statement that reflects an organisation’s core reason for being. It normally answers three key questions:

  • Why do we exist?
  • Whom do we serve?
  • What do we produce as outcome benefits?

A good Mission statement is:

  • feasible, understandable and concise
  • continuing in nature
  • stated in terms of outputs (results) rather than activities (inputs)
Why is a Mission statement critical to the Planning Process?

All organisations need a clear statement on what their core reason for being is. If key stakeholders (in particular Board Members and Executives) cannot agree on what their reason for being is then developing strategy is pointless. All organisations have a choice on what they deliver in the way of product and or services. There could be 100’s of variations to these final deliverables.

The obvious vs the not obvious

I have conducted numerous workshops, where the obvious is not so obvious when key stakeholders begin discussions. It is critical to flesh these differences out before detailed planning commences. Don’t leave the Mission development exercise undone and get back to it after strategy is developed. You might think that stakeholders are arguing over strategy and the deliverables around them, but what it normally indicates is that there is not a common acceptance on what the core reason for being is.

This is normally a major trap when Strategic Planning for the public sector as political ideologies influence people’s emphasis on service delivery.

So what’s the difference between a Vision and a Mission? Find out in my next blog post. In the meantime try out the Mission Development Exercise below.

Mission Development Exercise

Undertake a brain storming exercise using a mindmap approach for each of the three questions below:

  • Why do we exist?
  • Whom do we serve?
  • What do we produce as outcome benefits?

Make sure there is plenty of discussion and debate. Once complete, split into groups and ask them to fill in the gaps with the answers.

Our Mission is to serve…….(customers) with the ……(product and services)in order to achieve….. (why we exist?)

Collate the workgroup outputs and have a full group session to discuss and hopefully gain consensus.


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