Does your company have a mission statement? More importantly, do you know what it is?

Mission statements are a customary practice for companies – big or small, startups or blue-chips. They provide a succinct overview of what an organization does and why it exists. But here are the real questions: Although they are commonplace, are mission statements actually beneficial? Do they really clarify what a company does and steer the proverbial ship towards the ultimate goal?

Here’s an example: Microsoft’s mission statement is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

That’s a great statement, but something’s missing – don’t you think? Although it’s general and idealistic, it’s confining. It doesn’t really tell us anything, and it leaves us asking: “How?

Another example, Avaya’s mission statement is “to provide the world’s best communications solutions that enable businesses to excel.”

That tells us a little more, right? It at least provides more of a scope, but the “how” is still missing. Like, “How do you provide the ‘best’ communications solutions?” and “How does that enable overall success?”

We’re left with more questions than answers!

Mission statements also often suggest that the goal has already been reached or that a company’s marketplace and industry are static. This is a shortfall because you’re using a general statement to cast a wide net over your company’s objectives. If a company’s statement tells us that it’s the “best” or “premier” company in its industry, even if that’s true, who’s to say that won’t change?

Because they’re definitive, it’s easy to interpret a mission statement as overly assertive or potentially even conceited. So what’s the solution?

Mission Questions

Through his writings, the author of the inspirational book, “The Book of Beautiful Questions,” Warren Berger introduced the concept of mission questions.

Although less common, mission questions function like mission statements in that they both provide context for what a company does or is striving to do. However, companies that present their ultimate goals (their “missions”) as open-ended questions are better positioned to succeed.

Which one makes you feel more engaged and included: “This is what we do” or “How might we do this?”

We’d rather be included in the conversation, wouldn’t you?

By formatting your goals as questions, you not only imply that you’re constantly adapting and challenging the status quo, but that you’re also open to collaboration. It’s a natural catalyst for discussion.

If you ask “how,” you convey that you’re open to feedback (both internally and externally) and new ideas. A question also demonstrates an understanding that your business isn’t stagnant.

A mission question activates your entire team and aligns each level of your organization. It becomes a company-wide pursuit, rather than an arbitrary, disconnected statement formulated by top executives.

A mission statement can be created and filed away – forgotten and never revisited like an old high school yearbook. A mission question, on the other hand, is ever evolving and always top of mind, guiding everyone via an underlying objective to keep asking questions and to deliver solutions.

Sepire and Our Mission Questions

We believe we are a company that will always be evolving – to meet the needs of our clients, their clients and customers, our employees and our planet.

We considered these factors when we launched our company earlier this year because we understand that our clients’ needs are fluid. How can we possibly provide a one-size-fits-all solution for the rest of time? Sepire is guided by mission questions, which we believe better capture the ongoing journey and unite our company:

  • How might we help our clients communicate with their clients and customers in a secure, transparent and channel agnostic manner to help them achieve their critical business needs?
  • How might we empower our employees to grow, thrive and achieve a healthy work/life balance in a culture that celebrates diversity, achievement and uniqueness of personality and culture?
  • How might we help our clients minimize their environmental footprint and be good stewards of the earth’s resources along every touchpoint of the customer journey?

Our mission questions challenge us on a daily basis to adopt a culture of not only continuous improvement but also teamwork, open-mindedness, and collaboration. With these questions in mind, we are better prepared to: (1) adapt as an organization; and (2) adjust to the marketplace and needs of our clients.

If your company had a mission question, what would it be?