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Archive for January 4th, 2006

“Who among us has not had the horrible experience of a corporate offsite to build teamwork and to craft a mission statement?” That’s the question posed by Guy Kawasaki on his brand-spanking new blog Monday.

Don’t even get me started. Really. Don’t. Few things in the corporate world annoy me more than that kind of insipid summer-camp-for-adults-under-the-guise-of-career-boosting-seminar bull$&#%.

It was cool when we were ten. It might have still been of value when we were in college. By the time we’re in our thirties and beyond though, please spare us.

For the love of god, stop insulting our intelligence.

There are better ways to build stronger organizational bonds. There are better ways to foster innovation and cooperation. They’re much cheaper too… And unlike these worthless little mini-camps, they actually generate results.

Anyway… back to Guy’s post:

Day 2: Crafting the mission statement. A hot, crowded
room with easels of white paper and a facilitator who knows nothing about your
business. Everyone who is a director level and above in the company is
there—that’s sixty people. You each figure you get one word, so at the end of
the day, you have a sixty word mission statement like this:“The mission
of (your company) is to deliver superior quality products and services
for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation, and
partnerships.”


Bleh.

(I’m getting hives just from the flashbacks.)

You get the picture, so I’ll cut to the chase: Guy’s suggestion is to forego the high-dollar mission-statement sessions and to focus instead on creating a relevant brand mantra. Guy explains that a mantra, unlike a mission statement, is just three words. That’s it. Three little words.

It boils down to this: If you can’t articulate your organization’s mission in three words, it isn’t clear enough to be relevant.

(Don’t feel bad about wanting to read that again.)

Here are some examples, from Guy’s post:

Federal Express: “Peace of mind”
Nike: “Authentic athletic performance”
Target: “Democratize design”
Mary Kay “Enriching women’s lives”

(I like FedEx and Mary Kay’s best.)

Guy makes another astute observation:

“The ultimate test for a mantra (or mission statement) is if
your telephone operators (Trixie and Biff) can tell you what it is. If they can,
then you’re onto something meaningful and memorable. If they can’t, then, well,
it sucks.”


This is at the very core of your brand’s identity. If you can’t do this, if you don’t know, you’re deep in the soup. So ask yourself: What is your company about? Your organization? Your department, even?

What is its mission? Its purpose? Its raison d’etre? What is it that makes it special or different or better?

And because this doesn’t only apply to your company but also to brand you, turn those questions inward: What are you about? What makes you different? What’s your mantra?

Three words.

Real words.

Write them down and post them where you’ll see them pretty-much every day. If they’re good, let them guide you. If they aren’t, keep searching for them. Adjust them along the way, as needed. If you do that simple thing, you will be amazed at how much clearer the road ahead will become.

Simplicity works.

For Guy’s full post, click here.

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