statement of Mission or Purpose is your critical starting point and
should require a great deal of HARD thinking on your part, because it
is the keystone for all that follows in building your Strategic
Business Plan. It should specify what your business or association
will provide and to whom, irrespective of changes in profits, numbers
of employees, changes in political environments, physical location,
tax and operating laws and regulations, etc. The WHAT YOU SELL part
can be very tricky to figure out (e.g., the president of Revlon
reportedly revealed that, although Revlon manufactures and
distributes cosmetics, what they really sell is HOPE). Your Purpose
or Mission statement significantly constrains or enhances the way you
view your business or association and the challenges and
opportunities that arise. The remaining parts of Strategic Business
Planning are equally easy(?).
A Vision describes
what the company or association sees itself or some principal element
of its environment as being "when it grows up." "In
15 years, how would you want your company or association described
in a thumbnail sketch, if it were mentioned [in a positive context]
on page 1 of the New York Times or London Times?"
(For example, a Vision might be: "No individual within the
quad-state area goes to bed on any night without having a hot meal
made available within the sphere of their environment.") The
Vision is "what it will be" and the Purpose/Mission is
"what it does."
For more great
business topics like this please visit the Bruce D. Wyman Company
website at http://www.bdwyman.com
Peter F. Drucker,
the Non-Profit Organization.
1990, HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-016507-3.
(p. 3) The three
most charismatic leaders in this century inflicted more suffering on
the human race than almost any trio in history: Hitler, Stalin, and
Mao. What matters is not the leader's charisma. What matters is the
leader's mission. Therefore, the first job of the leader is to think
through and define the mission of the institution.
Here is a simple
and mundane example--the mission statement of a hospital emergency
room: "It's our mission to give assurance to the afflicted."
That's simple and clear and direct. Or take the mission of the Girl
Scouts of the U.S.A.: to help girls grow into proud, self-confident,
and self-respecting young women. There is an Episcopal church on the
East Coast which defines its mission as making Jesus the head of this
church and its chief executive officer. Or the mission of the
Salvation Army, which is to make citizens out of the rejected. Arnold
of Rugby, the greatest English educator of the nineteenth century,
who created the English public school, defined its mission as making
gentlemen out of savages.
mission definition, however, is not that of a non-profit institution,
but of a business. It's a definition that changed Sears from a
near-bankrupt, struggling mail-order house at the beginning of the
century into the world's leading retailer within less than ten years:
It's our mission to be the informed and responsible buyer--first for
the American farmer, and later for the American family altogether.
hospital I know says, "Our mission is health care." And
that's the wrong definition. The hospital does not take care of
health; the hospital takes care of illness. You and I take care of health....
statement has to be operational, otherwise it's just good intentions.
A mission statement has to focus on what the institution really tries
to do and then do it so that everybody in the organization can say,
This is my
contribution to the goal....
The task of the
non-profit manager is to try to convert the organization's mission
statement into specifics....
One of our most
common mistakes is to make the mission statement into a kind of hero
sandwich of good intentions. It has to be simple and clear. As you
add new tasks, you deemphasize and get rid of old ones. You can only
do so many things. Look at what we are trying to do in our colleges.
The mission statement is confused--we are trying to do fifty
different things.... As you add on, you have to abandon. But you also
have to think through which are the few things we can accomplish that
will do the most for us, and which are the things that contribute
either marginally or are no longer of great significance.
"MUSTS" OF A SUCCESSFUL MISSION. Look at strength and
performance. Do better what you already do well--if it's the right
thing to do.... And so one asks first, what are the opportunities,
the needs? Then, do they fit us? Are we likely to do a decent job?
Are we competent? Do they match our strengths? Do we really believe
in this? This is not just true of products, it's true of services.
So, you need three things: opportunities; competence; and commitment.
Every mission statement, believe me, has to reflect all three or it
will fall down on what is its ultimate goal, its ultimate purpose and
final test. It will not mobilize the human resources of the
organization for getting the right things done.
(p. 9) The most
important task of an organization's leader is to anticipate crisis.
Perhaps not to avert it, but to anticipate it..... Problems of
success have ruined more organizations than has failure, partly
because if things go wrong, everybody knows they have to go to work.
Success creates its own euphoria. You outrun your resources. And you
retire on the job, which may be the most difficult thing to fight.
(p. 45) THE ACTION
IMPLICATIONS. We hear a great deal these days about leadership, and
it's high time we did. But actually, mission comes first. Non-profit
institutions exist for the sake of their mission. They exist to make
a difference in society and in the life of the individual. They exist
for the sake of their mission, and this must never be forgotten. The
first task of the leader is to make sure that everybody sees the
mission, hears it, lives it. If you lose sight of your mission, you
begin to stumble and it shows very, very fast. And yet, mission needs
to be thought through, needs to be changed.
So we start always
with the long range, and then we feed back and say, What do we do today?
... Leadership is doing....
And the first imperative of doing is to revise the mission, to
refocus it, and to build and organize, and then abandon.... The next
thing to do is to think through priorities. That's easy to say. But
to act on it is hard because it always involves abandoning things
that look very attractive, that people inside and outside the
organization are pushing for. But if you don't concentrate your
institution's resources, you are not going to get results. This may
be the ultimate test of leadership: the ability to think through the
priority decision and to make it stick.
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