Monday 6 June 2011

Mission statements

In recent years I've been trying to put into words what I'm trying to achieve through reducing my use of various resources, supporting Fair Trade, having the neighbours over for a cuppa etc..  I've often lamented that I can't put what drives me into 'a simple, snappy statement'.  And I've recently joyfully celebrated that I'm starting to be able to express it as a statement (although it's more of a paragraph than a slogan...).

Martin pointed out that I'm reaching for a mission statement.

I've always been sceptical of mission statements.  They seem so often to be nice banalities that mean little and have minimal connection with reality (aka the day to day activities of the organisation whose mission they puport to encapsulate).  It never occurred to me that I should want such a thing for myself.

Instead, I've simply been reaching for a way to express some things that have become important to me.  I want a yardstick by which to judge initiatives I come across: a means to assess whether or not they are working towards goals that I see as worthwhile (and hence whether I should consider supporting them).  I also want to be able to communicate why I do what I do and where I'm trying to head.

Martin has drawn to my attention that, in so doing, I've stumbled upon the purpose of mission statements: why it came to be seen that every organisation worth its salt needed mission statement.  A set of meaningless platitudes may be a set of meaningless platitudes, but a thought-through statement that encapsulates what you're all about is a mighty handy thing to have at your fingertips :-)

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