Does your company have a mission statement? Really? What does it say. To provide the best service in the industry? To be the best agency in the world? To be the best and easiest to deal with?

When was the last time you read it? When was the last time you lived it? How often do you reinforce the message with your team, your staff, colleagues, partners, clients, and new people who join the business? Not often? Never? Sometimes?

Why is that? More than likely because mission statements are just words on a page that mean nothing. They are false and disconnected statements that almost never represent the actual purpose or position of a company. Written by someone with an expectation at a point in time on a piece of paper in the vain hope that people believe it and they rarely make sense.

I stood in a cafe early in the week with a sign behind the counter with the words “we aim to provide the best service in the industry”. I waited for more than 3 minutes (I was the only person at counter) to be served by the 1 person on staff, ordered coffee for 2 and took a seat. The lady didn’t come to us, we ordered at the counter as per the sign on the wall next to the mission statement. Shortly after, the nice lady delivered our coffee to our table (couldn’t she have taken our order there too?). No offer of cold tap water, not comment of enjoy and at no point in the 40 minutes that we occupied her cafe, did she ask us if we would like anything else (water, more coffee). We ended up going to the counter as per the sign to grab 2 more coffees.

Upon leaving, we went to pay ($16) and she informed me they don’t take cards for under $20, this seems to happen all too often. She insisted we walked the 700 meters up the road to get some cash. She had the facility to take our money, but the business rules were in the best intertest of the business, not the customers and in turn, they failed their mission. We walked it off.

Mission statements are a falacy that rarely represent the business. It is time companies drew a line in the sand and create an internal culture (a belief) that states what they stand for.

Throw out the piece of paper, don’t write it on a sign, just believe in it and start living it.

Image Via Red Bull Illume