“Respect, integrity, communication, excellence.” These were the official core values of Enron, one of the most fraudulent businesses ever formed. I thought of that the other day when the sales director came in saying that it was about time we had a new mission statement.
I half-agreed with him but the other half of me was already dreading the confusion to come, a confusion that could only be exacerbated by Google Drive. A great thing Google Drive - documents can be shared easily and several people can work on them simultaneously. Most of the time that’s good, but when it comes to trying to define a mission statement it leads to anarchy. Our designer started creating the document only to discover that our sales director was semi-continuously changing everything.
Worse still, as he was mostly out of the office, he was changing stuff remotely, often while killing time over a Costa coffee at a motorway service station. In the end, I had to become a Google Drive dictator - blocking a few people, including him, from making changes directly. (My PA, sensing my frustration, showed me how to do that.)
For light relief, I found a mission statement generator online which produced: “Our vision is to authoritatively restore unique opportunities.” That is, of course, nonsense but no more nonsensical than some of the pretentious efforts I have discovered. One marketing agency defines its purpose as “murdering mediocrity”. Which is funny and memorable but slightly deceptive - they’re not murdering mediocrity as a service to the community are they? They’re using the slogan to capture customers so they can make money.
The best question we discussed during the process was suggested by a consultant: “If your company didn’t exist, would anyone notice?” That silenced everyone. From the fidgeting and coughing around the table, I sensed that some of my colleagues had doubts.
I then suggested “Respect, integrity, communication, excellence”. That got quite a few nods but the sales director gave me a funny look and said: “Haven’t I heard that before?” When I fessed up, he groaned. As you read this, our mission statement, much like Mole Graphics, is very much work in progress.
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