Do you have a mission statement for your team or perhaps your company?

I’ve worked at various companies over the years. Most of them had a mission statement that was posted on a wall. It was usually filled with niceties but did little to motivate people or define what the company did or didn’t do.

It’s hard for me not to become cynical of mission statements. I’m sure I’m not alone.

So why bother with a mission statement at all? Or is it that we don’t know how to create a mission statement that makes a statement, inspires and motivates and guides us in the right direction?

In the book “Start With Why”, by Simon Sinek, he says when we define why we do something and if it aligns with our values, it will inspire us. Makes sense. Here’s his TED talk case you missed it.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Interestingly enough, Apple changed their mission statement recently.

When Steve Jobs was at the helm, the mission statement was:

“To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

The new mission statement is:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

The why was clearly stated in the original mission statement and it is inspiring, to advance humankind. I’d sign up to advance humankind. The new mission statement seems to be more focused on their product and how awesome they are rather than suggesting that there might be a purpose behind their efforts. Do you find this inspiring?

Here are a few other mission statements to think about.

Microsoftnice. I want to do more (although it makes me exhausted thinking about it).

“Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Tesla – I can sign up for this. Who doesn’t want sustainability?

to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport.

In 2016 they modified it slightly to:

to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Salesforce – I had no idea that this is what they are about.

“Salesforce.org is based on a simple idea: leverage Salesforce’s technology, people, and resources to help improve communities around the world. We call this integrated philanthropic approach the 1-1-1 model because it started with a commitment to leverage 1% of Salesforce’s technology, people, and resources to improve communities around the world. By encouraging and enabling companies to adopt the 1-1-1 model, Salesforce.org is helping to spark a worldwide corporate giving revolution.”

Google has mission impossible, endless, vague with lots of opportunities to create. Cool.

“to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Why am I looking at mission statements? I’m wondering what’s the best way to motivate and set the direction for a team. Would a mission statement help? Sure, a team has a common goal and likely some metrics to measure success. Is that enough? Is it inspiring? Is that enough to get you out of bed in the morning? Greet your teammates with enthusiasm?

Please share your thoughts.