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Make it your mission to make sense : CAMBRIDGE NEWS

Updated: Jun 16, 2018



Company mission statements the world over are filled with harmless fluff, piffle and jargon.


They’re rarely specific, always uninspiring and regularly ride internal hobbyhorses. They neither inspire and excite, let alone delight or compel. Even worse, customers are regularly completely absent from these unambitious statements of intent. In short, they’re pretty rubbish, say the authors of a new book.


In Solving the Strategy Delusion, Marc Stigter and Cary Cooper chose 25 of their favourite terrible, cliched, almost missionless mission statements from ‘top’ companies. They comment, “We could probably have extended the list by a few hundred.”



Some internally-driven guff about excellence and efficiencies

  • To deliver operational excellence in every corner of the company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve

  • To set standards of excellence with regard to environmental matters

  • To be the most efficient and innovative global provider of semiconductor solutions

  • We add value with efficient and cost-effective service and solutions for our customers and our suppliers

Vague but poorly-articulated realisation it might have something to do with customers

  • To nourish and delight everyone we serve

  • To supply outstanding service and solutions through dedication and excellence

  • To provide products and services to the market which meet or exceed the reasonable expectations of our customers. Satisfying our customers with the appropriate level of quality is a primary goal and a fundamental element of our business mission

Trying to be the best in everything (but saying a lot about nothing)

  • To be the best in the eyes of our customers, employees and shareholders

  • To serve our customers, employees, shareholders and society by providing a broad range of staffing services and products

  • One company, one team, one goal: Creating superior value for our customers, employees, partners, and shareholders

  • To create superior value for our customers, employees, communities and investors through the production, conversion, delivery and sale of energy and energy services

  • To be our customers’ favourite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which centre on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience

  • We are a market-focused, process-centred organisation that develops and delivers innovative solutions to our customers, consistently outperforms our peers, produces predictable earnings for our shareholders, and provides a dynamic and challenging environment for our employees

We are all children of the universe

  • Our mission is positive outcomes

  • To unlock the potential of nature to improve the quality of life

Statement of the obvious, part 1: Leader of the Pack

  • Undisputed marketplace leadership

  • To be the leader in every market we serve to the benefit of our customers and our shareholders

  • To be the performance leader achieving operational excellence, industry-leading customer satisfaction and superior financial performance

Statement of the Obvious, part 2: Increase Shareholder Value

  • To deliver a competitive and sustainable rate of return to shareholders

  • Create value for shareholders through the energy business

  • To build value for our investors through the strength of our customers’ satisfaction and by consistently producing superior operating results

Statement of the Obvious, part 3: Maximising Shareholder Value

  • To grow profitably in the world’s vehicular markets and provide industry-leading shareholder value

  • Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment


Stigter and Cooper comment: “Such cliched statements don’t contribute to a compelling story but point out that leadership lacks imagination and perhaps in some cases direction.

“A good mission statement is constructed from the outside-in addressing how we add value to whom. It goes beyond merely describing what we offer. There are no shortcuts, no silver bullets, no gimmicks that can replace the reality of the marketplace – ultimately demonstrating customer value wins.

“How do we add value to our customers and how do we demonstrate that value? What are our points of differentiation? What makes our offerings unique so that customers stay with us?”


Companies need to ask how they can begin to mobilise their people for future strategic change if they don’t have a compelling and shared mission. The authors recommend as a starting point this standard template for any company mission statement:

What do we do and how do we add value to whom with what kind of proposition where?

Sir Cary Cooper is a Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, UK. He is chairman of the Academy of Social Sciences, the Editor-in-Chief of the scholarly journal Stress and Health and the author of many books on workplace health.


Marc Stigter is an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Business and Economics, and an associate director at Melbourne Business School.


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