Dazzling Intentions with Baffling Results

buy-in clarity communication definite purpose leaders purpose leadership leadership purpose leadership purpose statement leading with a clear purpose leading with purpose mission mission vision values organizational purpose values vision Mar 27, 2024
mission vision values

I want to challenge you to really churn through this mission statement for a deep understanding of all it captures:

“Our mission is to delight our customers as the number one technology driven global manufacturer and marketer of value differentiated XYZ products and services. We will strengthen our leadership position through a shared-value culture of employee involvement where an intense focus on continuous improvement delivers shareholder value in everything we do.”

While somewhat sanitized to protect the (not so) innocent, I’ve always thought it had some powerful phrases and paints an extremely lofty picture of how that organization viewed the work being done, I’d have a tough time tying this back to any definite purpose.

Here’s where you may be saying, “You’re not too smart anyway, Wes. All those fancy words are just over your head.” And you’d be correct! Quite frankly, the reason Cindy and I build some aspect of the DISC Model of Human Behavior into nearly everything we do - after completing just about every kind of personality, behavioral, temperament, or any other assessment you can imagine - has been due to it being incredibly simple to understand and just as simple to share with anyone we’re working with. I always get a kick out of the dude sharing the latest and greatest gadget that’s just like DISC but has all these extra bells and whistles to wow everyone, but is so stinking complicated that you can’t take action on it… Fancy is fine and good if we’re buying a luxury car, but I need the tools I’m buying to be simple enough for me to actually understand how they work!

That brings us back to the mission statement above. Each time I read through it, this saying from the late W.C. Fields comes to mind, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull shit.” I mean, really, what does value differentiated even mean?

WIth that in mind, consider this more concise mission statement - and how your daily behaviors could exemplify it:

“Delivering customer satisfaction with empowered employees using continuous improvement to get it right the first time, every time.”

It’s certainly shorter but there’s still quite a bit of baffling going on if you ask me! I’d be willing to bet that you could ask twenty different people within that organization to define “delivering customer satisfaction” or “empowered employees” and get twenty different answers for each. But before you accuse me of bashing a specific company, I’ll ask you how true that same thing would be in nearly any organization you’ve ever been a part of…

Benjamin Franklin is credited for saying, “Well done is better than well said.” When it comes to an organization’s mission, vision, or values, I believe that’s painfully accurate. Unfortunately, that’s not what we usually see - is it? Far too often, we see masterfully crafted statements hung in expensive frames that just don’t connect with any kind of definite purpose and therefore, can’t be upheld in a way that gains measurable traction. Before we can treat the symptoms, though, we to need come to terms with the cause so that’s where we’ll pick up next time.