Mission Statement v. Question Statement

(*information obtained from the book “A More Beautiful Question”)

Pg. 162 & 163

Bertrand Russell the philospher once said, In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you take for granted. Usually, mission statements in the corporate world are taken for granted, ignored, and occasionally ridiculed. What if we were to take the typical mission statement and hang a question mark on the end of it?

Why would a company want to use a question statement rather than a question statement. It’s assumed that a declarative “statement” makes a company seem confident, more sure of its mission, more determined. But mission statements tend to have a different effect. They often sound arrogantly. They come across a snot quite credible. They seem “corporate” and “official”, which also means they’re a bit stiff.

Often they’re banal pronouncements (we save people money so they can live better or Yahoo! is the premier digital media company) that don’t offer much help in gauging whether a company is actually living up to a larger goal or purpose. Ans sometimes they sound as if they’re saying the mission has already been accomplished, and now the company is just in maintenance mode.

In this dynamic times, it seems appropriate to take that static statement and transform it into a more open-ended, fluid mission question that can still be ambitious. For example, change “we make the world a better place through robotics!” to ” How might we make the world a better place through robotics” ?

By articulating the company mission as a question, it tells the outside world, ” this is what we’re striving for; we know we’re not there yet, but we’re on the journey”. It acknowledges room for possibility, change, and adaptability. You don’t want the mission statement to make it sound like you’re already there.

What are your thoughts?

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