A mission statement defines the basic reason for the existence of that organization. Such a statement reflects the corporate philosophy, identity, character, and image of an organization. It may be defined explicitly or could be deduced from the management’s actions, decisions, or the chief executive’s press statements. When explicitly defined it provides enlightenment to the insiders and outsiders on what the organization stand for. In order to be effective, a mission statement should possess the following seven characteristics.
- It should be feasible: A mission should always aim high but it should not be an impossible statement. It should be realistic and achievable. Feasibility depends on the resources available to work towards a mission. In the 1960s, NASA had a mission to land on the moon. It was a feasible mission that was ultimately realized.
- It should be precise: A mission statement should avoid being narrow. This may restrict the organization’s future activities. On the other side, the statement should not be too broad either else it will render itself meaningless. For example, ‘Manufacturing bicycles’ is a narrow mission statement since it severely limits the organization’s activities, while mobility business’ is too broad a term, as it does not define the reasonable contour within which the organization could operate.
- It should be clear: A mission should be clear enough to lead to action. It should not be a highsounding set of platitudes meant for publicity purposes. Many organizations do adopt such statements but probably they do so for emphasizing their identity and character. For example, Asian Paints stresses leadership through excellence’, while India Today see itself as ‘the complete news magazine’. The Administrative Staff College of India considers itself as ‘the college for practicing managers’ and Bajaj Auto believes in ‘Providing, value for money, for years’. To be useful, a mission statement should be clear enough to lead to action. The ITC’s stated corporate philosophy of aligning its organizational activities with national priorities helps it in choosing areas for diversification like the hotel, paper and agroindustry.
- It should be motivating: A mission statement should be motivating for members of the organization and of society, and they should feel it worthwhile working for such an organization or being its customers. A bank that lays stress on customer service will push its staff to treat its customers better and attract business. Customer service becomes a very important factor for a banking institution.
- It should be distinctive: A mission statement, which is indiscriminate, is likely to have little impact. If, for instance, all scooter manufacturers drafted their mission statement in a the same way, there would be no distinction between them. But if one company says it provides scooters that would provide ‘value for money, for years’ it will create an important distinction in the public mind.