What makes a strong mission statement?

This is a question that every organization faces, and it was a topic of discussion at RetailWire relative to the new mission statement at Microsoft: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Here’s my opinion:

Regardless of the type of company or organization, I believe that a mission statement ought to be relatable to its “business” in a tangible way. This doesn’t mean that it needs to be as metrics-driven as the original Microsoft mission statement, but it’s nice to know what business you’re in.

I volunteer for a local independent school which rewrote its mission statement recently in sync with a new strategic plan. It’s arguable that the mission statement could be more concise, but it’s beyond debate that it’s all about the core values of a school.

The Microsoft mission statement, as written, is so generic that you could assign it to any other tech company — or a host of companies and organizations in other industries. (Why not Boeing, for example?) And since part of the purpose of an effective mission statement is to “rally the troops,” you have to question whether it accomplishes that goal.

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