If there is one strategic asset that corporations almost stereotypically manage to butcher, it's their company mission and vision statements.
Corporates tend to gravitate towards completely nonsense statements that are so unbelievably meaningless and sterile that it's hard not to believe that they didn't all have a good chuckle at themselves during the tea break of the session where they 'brainstormed' it.
Things like 'our mission is to deliver superior shareholder value' are a favourite amongst banks and other financial services organisations.
Why would you even bother write this down? Obviously you need to deliver shareholder value, otherwise you're not functioning as a business. It's stating the bleeding obvious.
'We commit to being a good corporate citizen and conduct business with the highest ethical standards'. Really? As apposed to being a terrible corporate citizen and trying to screw everyone where ever possible?
These classic examples are obviously pointless statements and have no place in any strategy document worth the time to read it.
So what constitutes a nonsense statement?
Here's a simple test.
If the negative of a statement (that is defined as part of a mission or vision statement) makes no sense - the positive version of that statement is also pointless.
Giving an example of this from the statements posted above; if you had to test a positive statement through the lens of its negative: 'We don't commit to being a good corporate citizen and choose to conduct business in unethical ways.'
No company would ever plausibly make that kind of statement, so stating the positive of it then is ridiculous.
A good mission and vision statement needs to be inspiring, unique, credible and most of all you need to be able to at least be able to track some kind of progress towards its realisation.
These vital strategic assets are routinely misunderstood and their value hugely discounted by so many leadership teams; so much so that many company's ask their ad agencies to come up with something catchy that they can post on their website and flog in the annual report.
This behaviour should be classified as criminal.
Get your direction clear and expressed in simple enough terms and a lot of your change management efforts can then fall more easily into place.
If that's not possible, then rather don't waste your time and choose to guide your business into the future without one - it's a better idea than lying to yourselves with a statement that nobody even knows exists anyway.