Mistakes in developing mission statements

A pamphlet from Stanton Marris, a London consultancy, (No. 7 at pg. 10) succinctly and cleverly describes the “route to failure” when groups, such as a law department, prepare a mission statement.

“First, a committee drafts them. Usually they fail the generic test, i.e. they could apply to any organization (“quality”) and the platitude test, i.e. no-one would reasonably maintain the converse {“we care about our customers”). Then the internal communication manager adds a logo and puts them on a poster. Next, there is an exhortation from [the general counsel] about their importance.” In the end, the principles are “laminated but not lived.”

Wonderful summary! The pamphlet describes a salutary approach to developing mission statements, which the consulting firm calls “guiding principles,” that promises a higher likelihood of going beyond the petrification of lamination.

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