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Developing a Good Mission Statement

January 22, 2010

A good mission statement provides a clear and concise account of what your business must do to succeed by answering four basic questions: who, what, when and where.


Vision and Values Review

First, however, a quick review of the importance of communication and the need to create new or better awareness and achieve common understanding. Senior leaders have less direct contact with their staff and must answer the “how” and “why” questions in their vision statement, which precedes the mission statement because it provides the framework that allows others to operate.



Company Vision Statement Example (Southwest Airlines):

“We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the Organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest customer.”

An extremely important part of this is holding your organization accountable for operating within parameters that serve as common ground for everyone.

When this occurs, you will have established corporate values that define your organization’s norms or expectations.


Mission Statements that provide Focus

A good mission statement should have insight into what the competition is doing, knowledge of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, an understanding of what needs to be accomplished and any constraints, and considered critical facts and assumptions affecting your operation.

While the vision statement addresses the broader organizational purpose, there may be many ongoing activities within your business that require subordinate company mission statements that answer these questions for any given operation:

  • Who will perform the action?

  • What action is desired?

  • When will the action begin?

  • Where will the action occur?

Company Mission Statement Example:

“Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”

  • Who – implied; all employees

What – dedicated to the highest quality of Customer Service …

  • When – implied; all of the time

  • Where – implied; everywhere the company conducts business


More on Mission Statements

Establishing a vision so that everyone understands the company’s purpose answers the overarching “how” and “why” questions.

More significant, living corporate values highlights the importance of leadership by establishing an environment where the team feels that the rules apply to everyone and this enables “buy-in” to your vision.

Instilling the ideas of vision and values is all about leadership. When leaders create this environment, they:

  • Enable communication

  • Facilitate teamwork

  • Foster leader development

Nuts: Southwest Airline’s Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success, by Kevin & Jackie Freiberg, illustrates how a vision, combined with corporate values for all employees, makes a company mission statement have great impact.

About the Author: Tom Crea has been developing leaders for more than 25 years. If you would like to know more about a values-based approach to leading, building, and improving communication within your team,

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