Best Practices

AKSourceLink: Develop Your Mantra, Not Your Mission

Published Sep 23, 2013

Mission Statements have long been considered critical to the business planning process. They are crafted to guide the decision making process of your company, as well as to inform shareholders or potential investors of the values of your company. Even after the initial drafting of a mission statement during the Startup phase, companies of all stages and sizes will periodically go back to review their mission statement. While the founders of a Startup may formulate their mission statement over a few beers late on some winter night, large corporations will often take the C-Suite to an offsite retreat accompanied by a high-priced facilitator. And what does all of this time and money produce?  --A paragraph of eloquent sounding language that is devoid of any real meaning. While it may sound nice in a 10k report, it is so vague and open ended that it is hard to differentiate whether you are selling burgers or car insurance. Because the language is so vague and open ended the mission statement becomes forgotten and is excluded from the everyday decision making process.


The degradation of mission statements has led some to discredit the need to formulate a set of guiding principles for organizations. While the traditional mission statement may no longer serve its intended purpose, it is wrong to completely ignore the need to have a statement that can serve as the guideline for internal decision making and allow outsiders to understand what criteria your company evaluates in its decision making process. 

Renowned entrepreneurial thinker Guy Kawasaki teaches the idea of developing a mantra. The word “mantra” originates from Sanskrit, meaning “sacred utterance”. A mantra is meant to be short and to the point, to reflect what is in soul. There is no room for flowery jumbled language in a mantra. Mantras should be at a maximum four words long; in two to four words you should be able to express the purpose of your business. This allows you to focus on what is actually important to your business. It should be simple enough that anyone who walks into your office and sees it written on the wall can understand what it means. Your mantra should be actionable, something that either inspires or guides action. Employees should be able to look at any decision and easily see if it is aligned with the mantra. The mantra helps employees, stakeholders and customers understand why your business exists. Over time you may alter your business strategy and goals, but your mantra will remain unchanged at your core.



By shifting the focus away from meaningless statements attempting to cover every basis, your new mantra will accomplish two things that your mission statement failed to do. It will be memorable and meaningful.

To hear more on mantras from Guy Kawasaki visit: http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=1172


Content contributed by Kyle Ragan,
AKSourceLink.
AKSourceLink is a proud affiliate of
U.S.SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.