I was talking about company mission and vision statements with Paresh Shah, a good and smart friend of mine. During the discussion, he gave me a simple rule to see if your mission was good or not:
“Write out the exact opposite of your company mission or position. If nobody would buy the opposite, your mission or vision sucks.”
How simple is that? But it’s true. Most vision/mission/whatever task forces come up with a namby-pamby list of inoffensive terms. We’re scared that some potential buyer might be scared off by a word, so we get a bleah vanilla mission.
Nobody hates vanilla, but nobody likes it all that much either. Certainly, nobody goes to the mat for vanilla.
Try it with your company, product, or institution. Did you get vanilla? Fix it.
P.S. During the discussion, we quickly wrote a mission statement for a assisted living facility centered around sex, drugs, and loud rock and roll. (I can’t share the exact wording on this, a family-oriented blog.) Many people, perhaps most, would decline to bring their parents there. They might even think the benefits of such a place are highly illegal. We, on the hand, thought we’d enjoy our golden years there and we don’t believe we’re alone. A new business opportunity presents itself and it would work like crazy.