Every organization on campus needs a Mission Statement. As a matter of fact, every department and office on campus should have a Mission Statement. While it sounds like a pretty simple matter to create a mission, it’s more difficult and requires more thought than you might initially consider.
The modern mission statement is far different than it’s predecessor. How can that be? Isn’t a mission statement just the purpose for an organization? Shouldn’t it be simple to capture your purpose in a few words?
Here’s the difference in the modern Mission Statement: it explains why.
Old school mission statements defined what an organization did. Contemporary mission statements define why an organization does what it does.
See, it’s really the why we do things that matters.
Let me give you an example. I worked with a history and natural science museum to create a new mission statement. Their old mission was typical. It explained what the museum did: maintained a collection of native plants, animals, and historic buildings and presented programs to the public.
I started out the rewrite by asking everyone why the museum was important. I talked with staff, volunteers, board members, visitors, any one who had an opinion. Why was all the stuff the museum did important?
I discovered that the museum had a higher mission than just collecting artifacts. All of the collections were simple tools serving a bigger goal.
In the end, this became the new Mission Statement: "The Museum promotes knowledge and understanding of the area’s cultural history and natural environment, inspiring people to enrich their lives and build a better community."
The real mission of the organization was to inspire people to enrich their lives, and to thereby create a better community. That was why volunteers gave their time. That was why staff members worked long hours without complaint. That was why donors provided funding. Collecting artifacts and presenting exhibits just assisted in reaching that end goal.
Think about applying that lesson to your organization and office. Take a look at your mission statement. Does it define what you do? Redevelop it so that it explains why you do what you do. What is your ultimate purpose?