Posted by Jeff Lucas
Eric Hellweg of Editor of HBR.org is attending the PopTech Conference in Camden, Maine and has a great blog post about a session by Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation. Starr applies Polonius’s prescription to the mission statements of the socially-conscious businesses that Mulago looks to fund. In fact, he requires that they be no more than eight words in length and follow this formula: verb + target + outcome. Hellweg relates some examples provided which include: “Save endangered species from extinction” and “Improve African children’s health.”
Now these may not be as elegant as some of those six-word memoirs that continue to be popular (I digress, but I continue to be amazed at what great stuff people come up with in this format on an almost daily basis. Two recent ones: “Photographic memory; running out of film” and “Like Beer, like brownies, hate diabetes”). But I am guessing that they will provide your workforce with a clearer picture of what you want them to focus on and be more likely to be remembered than those that sound like they were created by Dilbert’s automatic mission statement generator. For example, our challenge is to assertively network economically sound methods of empowerment so that we continually negotiate performance-based infrastructures.
So, can you get your organization’s mission down to eight meaningful and compelling words? I’ll give ours a try. Baldrige: “Improving US organizations’ performance.” We usually add in competitiveness because it is in our establishing legislation, but I think our current definition of performance probably covers that too. What might yours look like?