As we continue on the series of business strategy development, today I am building onto the key aspects of a strategic plan that I tackled in previous articles from what a business strategy is to how to gain competitive advantage over your competitors, with the last one being the formulation of a strategic vision, I will be diving into formulation of an organizational mission statement with this article.
PS: You’ll notice that the subjects I am tackling are what you already heard of and probably know, what is different is the lens I am using to look at them and what they really mean. These are smallest parts of the business that are often overlooked and neglected to a point where you can just copy a mission statement of another company and use it.
Brief secret; the talented business strategist I find myself to be is a product of failing to articulate my then organizational mission and allowing myself to be teachable.
4 years ago I was sitting down with my all-time role model turned mentor, Naadiya,a global citizen and champion of everything I care about – Education, Gender Equality, Civil Society work and social entrepreneurship. Ever wished to meet someone so bad and then you meet up unexpectedly and you don’t know what to say?
This is one of the first and rare 5 people to ever care to listen to me and my “audacious” dreams. So, when I got an opportunity to sit down with her, she was interested in knowing about me and what I do, aspirations and all.
When we got to talk about the organization I founded, she asked a very short question;
What do you do?
Now this is a question that most people wish to hear (people wish for you to ask them about themselves, it’s not about liking to talk, but just about having somebody who cares that much to listen), so I hit the ground running with passion incredibly visible in my eyes and smile. I probably shared 3 pages to answer that simple question.
She then said “Kgadi, in one line what do you do?
Shucks! How do I summarize 3 pages into 1 line? And I will tell you, that moment unleashed and enhanced the critical thinker I am. My talent in strategy development was nurtured in that moment. The reason I am able to help our clients in writing proposals that get them what they need, is because I know how to articulate their value proposition and mission – additionally, in an easy-to-understand way.
What Naadiya was looking for was the punchline of the organization. It is that punchline that would give you extra hours from the key stakeholder when pitching because they are interested in hearing more.
Imagine the following punch lines;
- “We save lives”,
- “We create possibilities”,
- “We keep businesses in business”,
- “We give you 1000 songs in your pocket”,
- “We help businesses save money”,
- “We sell time”,
- “We give confidence” and the list goes on.
Before I get carried away, let’s first understand what an organizational mission is:
An organizational mission describes the purpose and scope of your business.
- Scope– who we are and what we do( the scope of your work gives you an identity)
- Purpose – Why we are here – why we exist
In essence, your organizational mission statement must tell the stakeholders why you exist (what your purpose is) and how you achieve that purpose (the specific activities you carry out to achieve that purpose.
A company mission statement on the scope part (1) identifies the company’s products and/or services, (2) specifies the buyer needs that the company seeks to satisfy and the customer groups or markets that it serves.
For example, our company KM – Consulting and Development Services’ mission is as follows;
Purpose (why we exist) –To keep businesses in business.
Scope (how we achieve our purpose) – We use new venture creation tools, design thinking, business and market analysis principles and frameworks to help entrepreneurs and SME owners setup and launch profitable and scalable business ventures, and grow their existing businesses through profit maximization, diversification, new markets penetration, business and revenue model innovation, market intelligence and new technology.
So, to answer the question; What do you do (what does KM – Consulting and Development Services do?)
We keep businesses in business.
By using new venture creation tools, design thinking, business and market analysis principles and frameworks to help entrepreneurs and SME owners setup and launch profitable and scalable business ventures, and grow their existing businesses through profit maximization, diversification, new markets penetration, business and revenue model innovation, market intelligence and new technology.
If you feel like you didn’t get the mission statement of your business right, do not panic, at least for now, even the leading brands did not do a great job at articulating what they do.
Here are examples of bad mission statements:
- “Be the best in the eyes of our customers, employees and shareholders.”
Isn’t that every company’s goal?
- “We strive to be the acknowledged global leader and preferred partner in helping our clients succeed in the world’s rapidly evolving financial markets.”
… and I’d bet all your competitors strive for the same.
- “Undisputed Marketplace Leadership.”
Nice goal. But what about your customers?
- “To supply outstanding service and solutions through dedication and excellence.”
But to whom? And how
Let’s do an exercise;
Using the key elements given in the article (the purpose and scope of your business), in the comments section answer the question: What do you do (as a business)? Articulate your purpose followed by how you achieve that purpose)
I hope this was helpful, and that you’re looking forward to the next article on Organizational Values and how they are not a copy and paste of some corny list of “integrity, Leadership, Customer Service etc.” The aim will be to guide you on how to craft the organizational values that speaks to you and your business.