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January 02, 2006

Mantras Versus Missions

Artmantra Who among us has not had the horrible experience of an corporate offsite to build teamwork and to craft a mission statement? The offsite usually went like this:

Day 1: Teambuilding. Selection of cross-functional teams so that, God help us, engineering has to work with sales. A day of exercises such as, “Each of you will come up to the front of the group, turn your back to the group, close your eyes, and fall backwards into the arms of your colleagues. This will teach you to trust your fellow employees.”

Day 2: Crafting the mission statement. A hot, crowded room with easels of white paper and a facilitator who knows nothing about your business. Everyone who is a director level and above in the company is there—that’s sixty people. You each figure you get one word, so at the end of the day, you have a sixty word mission statement like this:

“The mission of Wendy’s is to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation, and partnerships.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love Wendy’s, but I’ve never thought I was participating in “leadership, innovation, and partnerships” when I ordered a hamburger there. The root cause of mission statement-itis is that most organizations are run by people who have either gotten an MBA or worked for McKinsey—or both.

I give up trying to get people to create short, different, and meaningful mission statements, so go ahead and spend the $25,000 for the offsite, facilitator, and consultants to create one. However, you should also create a mantra for your organization. A mantra is three or four words long. Tops. Its purpose is to help employees truly understand why the organization exists.

If I were the CEO of Wendy’s, I would establish a corporate mantra of “healthy fast food.” End of story. Here are more examples of corporate mantras to inspire you:

Federal Express: “Peace of mind”
Nike: “Authentic athletic performance”
Target: “Democratize design”
Mary Kay “Enriching women’s lives”

The ultimate test for a mantra (or mission statement) is if your telephone operators (Trixie and Biff) can tell you what it is. If they can, then you’re onto something meaningful and memorable. If they can’t, then, well, it sucks.

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Comments

I really enjoyed this..

I hope to put my own mantra to work soon.

www.deborahmarcotte.com

what a nice blog :)
i learned a lot here.

In Mormon scriptures there is a statement attributed to God that is a succinct mission statement, almost a mantra: "This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Pretty brief, for the CEO of the universe.

Dank, bloated missions
Lost to the suits
Wordified nonsense
Loved only by snoots
But strip it down naked
And ditch all the frills?
All hail the mantra!
(Cuz Corpspeak KILLS!)

Rock on, brother Guy,
Lani Voivod
"A-Ha Yourself!"

I with you certainly agree, though much seems to me not absolutely correctly,With pleasure I shall visit once again, I hope you will add to told.

All here welcome friends!!!

Guy,

I love this verse...

“Alice came to a fork in the road.
"Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then,” said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) Author

Mantra or mission statement, you gotta choose the path or it will be chosen for you.

John Bradley Jackson

imdb.cn very good!!

great blog! i really learned a lot here!

for mission statement software, i can suggest you one, Mission Expert - Company Edition.

for more details, go:
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How is this for a mission statement?

Giving you goosebumps. One movie at a time.

André Hedetoft
Movie-god.
www.oddlife.se

Back in the 1980s when this whole mission business was getting started (about the same time Japanese corporations were singing company anthems) was the last time I saw the paragon of mission statements. It was a photograph of Timothy Leary beside his VW campervan and his car plate just said FURTHER

Such purity and purpose

Your blog is great. I was on my way to buy your book until I got to your mantra for Mary Kay - enriching women's lives. Tell me you're kidding. I started the blog newsonwomen.com to fight just this attitude. We need people like you to support our efforts, not undermine them with a mantra that says make-up can enrich your life, equating success with being pretty.
Take a look at newsonwomen.com. It may not be dicee, but it is necessary. Any ideas?
Alice
www.newsonwomen.com

Mantra? NOT? I am buddhist and you are definitely pretentious. I also worked in proper, adverstising for 25 years where what you claim is commonly known as a 'slogan'. Possibly headline or maybe a service mark. But please don't assume the kudos of a philosophy to whuch you have no right.

My personal mantra is super simple: Make It Great! Thanks for confirming that simple is good Guy, and for inspiring us all to make everything as simple as possible, and no more. Guy Kawasaki and Einstein...two great thinkers!

In my last job in a software company our president and his brother, the commercial director, decided in a democratical meeting that we have to share his brother idea that the Vision of the company is "to make profits of 10 million dollars in three years", so I asked, ok, can we go home after that? I´d never seen a Vision or a Mission that ends in the future.

Hey,

I just finished reading your book "Art of Start" yesterday and what a surpise to discover your blog today.

Your book was truly amazing, looking forward to reading your blog :)

Don't forget the classic that started all this;

Toyota: "Beat GM"


Guy;

I respectfully submit that your mantra and your perceived mantra better match:

Mantras:

Federal Express: “Deliver stuff fast”
Nike: “Sell sneakers”
Target: “Wal-Mart with better stuff”
Mary Kay: “Sell makeup directly”

At the end of the day, you’re positioned by your customers.

I am a strong believer in high quality mission statements... i might go as far as to say that a good mission statement can make/break your company/product.

examples of great mission statements:

"We Sell Soda." - pepsi bottling group.

"Build the fastest spreadsheet on the planet." - Excel team at msft, (or so we've heard).

A good vision statement will guide every major decision that management is forced to make... a bad one will make every decision harder.

The mission statement where I work sounds like a 5 year old wrote it. Dilbert Mission Statement Generator would have been a much better choice!! :)

Thank you, Guy, for the description of the offsite. Having been doing these for ten years, what I've found is that most are now shorter, more focused, more honest and more transformative. And more fun. All the best with your blog.

For years I've maintained that ANY corporate mission statement is best contained to four words: We must make money.

So glad you've decided to start blogging Guy. I wish more influential folks like yourself would start. You have made a difference and will continue to make a difference in my professional life. Thanks.

Happy New Year and Great points, Guy.

As someone who, despite an obvious lack of any such talent :-) , sometimes harbors delusions of being invited on the Tonight Show :-) for my "comic wit", I think I have an easy way to do it.

Actually, I do not even think I would need to prepare a routine. I would simply pick up mission statements of some companies and read them on air.

The other thing you may want to comment on, as I intend to, is what's with this whole trend of Dumbness as marketing tool.

I mean, I have lost count of ads that show people being STUPID. Or just STUPID ads. Some ads almost sound like the company is spending money to say Stupid People Use Our Products.

Maybe you can call up some of these companies that have these grandiose mission statements, and ask them to hold a contest at your web site. Let readers and friends of yours submit mantras instead. Maybe a year's supply of hamburgers could be the reward. :-)

Forget Supersize Me, say Mantrasize me.

Keep up the good work.

Imran

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