The advantages and disadvantages of a mission statement must be known by small business owners that are either just starting up or have been running a small business for a while- just like every other things in life you ask; what is in it for me? Not minding if you understand the answer that will be given to you or not.
I received a rather worrying email from an independent consultant (one of my readers) that was in the process of being contracted by a small business to help rewrite their mission statement but got stocked in the final meeting with the owner of the business shortly before the final contract was signed.
The owner of the business simply asked the consultant to briefly highlight the benefits and drawbacks of a mission statement so that other members of the management would have an idea of the positives and negatives of a mission statement.
Am sure you already know what happened next. He was not contracted anymore simply because he was not equipped to provide answer to question as simple as ‘what are the advantages and disadvantages of a missions statement?’
So, this article is a follow up on my previous article that explained the meaning of mission and vision statement. Go ahead and have a look at that if you haven’t done so already.
5 Advantages of a Mission Statement
- Provide Directions: mission statements are like compasses that help a business navigate the jungle of fierce competition that businesses now face. This is one of the most pronounced advantages of a mission statement. Without directions, companies will be operating without purpose and this can be dangerous.
- Helps to Resolve Conflicts: another advantage of a mission statement is that members of the management board can easily make quick reference to a mission statement in time of conflict and argument. People usually tend to calm down when their attention are drawn to written document.
- Removes any Ambiguity Surrounding the Existence of a Company: managers and other stakeholders will not have any doubt about the primary aim of a company.
- Acts as a Communication Tool: communication is very important in a business and founders or owners of an enterprise use a mission statement to communicate to their desire to other members of the company.
- A Framework for Decision Making: decision makers are constantly faced with the tough challenge of making decisions that are economically sound and at the same time meet the needs of other stakeholders. A very important advantage of a mission statement is that it acts as a framework that effective managers can easily use as a guide in discharging their everyday management functions.
5 Disadvantages of Mission Statements
- Can On Its Own Be Ambiguous And Worthless: the major disadvantage of a mission statement is that the chances of its design and implementation being wrong are very high. A mission statement can easily be vague, empty and at best confusing. Care must be taken to avoid this costly mistake.
- Focused More On Short Term Issues And Internal In Nature: unlike a strategically set objective mission statements are known for being notoriously internal in nature and this in many cases makes it short term in nature as the problem that the founders of a company saw when establishing a company might disappear in the nearest future. Take camera film making companies as example, no one need to buy films anymore as digital cameras are the in thing nowadays. When written by a professional, a mission statement can be a very important strategic business analysis tool.
- Can Sometimes Lead To Conflicts And Inconsistencies: again, when not properly developed, one part of a mission statement can contradict the other and eventually lead to conflicts and inconsistencies.
- Wastes Management’s Time and Resources: just like everything that involves planning; a mission statement takes time to draw up and will be utter waste of time and resources if the ultimate reason of developing the statement is not achieved.
- Can Be Unrealistic In Reality: adrenalines are usually high when we are fantasising in our dream world of perfection. Things are not as straightforward in reality as they are on paper. A fundamental weakness of mission statements is that they in most cases turn out to be unrealistic and over optimistic by the time things starts to unfold.
Bear in mind that a mission statement must be set in accordance with the SMART principles if the above advantages of the mission statement are to be achieved and the disadvantages avoided.
A mission statement must be vertically and horizontally consistent with the overall objectives of the company and also encourage managers to keep an eye on critical success factors
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