“Houston we have a problem.” These words have become part of the American lexicon after being associated with the flight of Apollo 13. Today this statement has come to mean a serious to even a sometimes humorous problem.
These words came back to me after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about “Why Don’t Business Plans Deliver.” Millions of dollars are invested each year to craft business or strategic action plans with the expressed goal to improve business results. However, research suggests that anywhere from 60 to 80% of all plans fail.
This failure would lead a reasonable person to first ask why and then ask why are plans still being written that do not achieve the desired results? In other words, is it not time to stop the insanity? The obstacle keeping these plans from achieving better business results lies within those quite common mission statements hanging in lobbies to sitting on the CEO’s desk.
Do you remember the television series “Mission Impossible.” The program started out with Mr. Phelps receiving a self-destructing message that delineated what the team had to do and within a specific time frame. In other words, Mr. Phelps needed strategic planning to make this mission possible.
Now compare your mission statement (if you have one) to Mr. Phelp’s:
- Can you determine the time frame?
- Can you identify the measurable outcomes?
- Will everyone know when the mission is achieved?
Did you answer Yes to each and every question? What I know after reading thousands of mission statements, I can honestly say that well over 75% and probably closer to 95% answer No to at least 2 of these questions.
For example, a local for profit business stated it “promotes growth of individual worth in its employees.” A not-profit said it will be “a voice for business… strengthen economic vitality.”
As employees of either of these organizations, how do they know when the mission is achieved successfully?
Returning to Mission Impossible, the team members all knew to an individual when the mission was completed and if it was successful. They did not have to stand around, scratch their heads and ask what do we need to do next?
Executable Mission Statements are those that are structured to include no more than 3 WAY SMART Goals. Coaching Tip: WAY SMART means Written, Aligned to Purpose; Plans & Passion; Yours; Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistically set high and Target Date or Time Driven.
Setting Your Goals
The first goal in this foundational statement and possibly the only goal is total sales by the end of the year or for the next 12 months. Without sales, organizations cannot stay in business.
Goal number two is directly connected to meeting and maintaining specific quality standards such as ISO, Baldrige or local health standards.
The third goal is continuing education units (CEU) or professional development units (PDU). Many professionals such as financial advisors, insurance agents, realtors, physicians, attorneys, etc are required to continue their professional development. Some manufacturers to those in transportation must take OSHA training. Finally, in some instances, professional development is a standard and therefore is connected to the second goal.
By keeping the Mission Statement simple, in and by itself allows for greater success. Way Smart business owners, SOHO and C-Level executives, should leave those fancy, word rich, action poor, confusing, vague statements for their competitors. If you want to improve your business results, then look to your sales first.