What are the advantages & disadvantages of using mission statements?

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What are the advantages & disadvantages of using mission statements?
A mission statement is a statement that communicates the vision or purpose of a company in terms of what product or service it intends to offer to its customers. (WPA Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

A mission statement is a statement that communicates the vision or purpose of a company in terms of what product or service it intends to offer to its customers. It should generally cover four elements which are the organisations' purpose, values, strategy and their policies and standards of behaviour.

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The importance of having a mission statement

A business should incorporate a mission statement for several reasons. As it is a visionary tool it is important that it acts as a foundation for the more detailed strategic objectives and goals that the organisation may have. As the mission statement will focus on values, the way the mission statement is written needs to be influential. Values represent integral parts of consumers' buying decisions, which is further influenced by advertising campaigns for example.

Advantages of having a mission statement

Internally, having a mission statement can create a high level of focus and involvement from those within the organisation whilst assisting in the reinforcement of direction in which the organisation will take. Externally it can create a sense of identity for the organisation and it can help in establishing the position in the marketplace the organisation will fit. There is belief by some writers that by having strong corporate values which are reflected in the mission statement, then in turn this will create profitability and also from an internal perspective employees will become more satisfied and more efficient, as they are aware that what they are doing in their job has a more significant purpose beyond just the general task or duty.

Disadvantages of having a mission statement

Mission statements are often ignored by those who are responsible for implementing them and as such they become obsolete. Another reason why a mission statement may become obsolete is that as an organisation evolves the mission statement remains as it was originally and therefore becomes outdated. The way in which mission statements are written can sometimes be too general, meaning that the points made do not link directly in with the strategic initiatives of the organisation.

Where to find

You will find a mission statement generally in the 'About us' section of a company's booklet or in the 'About us' section on a company website. Occasionally organisations will have printed versions displayed around the company to remind their employees of the values that should be shared. Potential and existing customers, shareholders and other stakeholders may have an interest in viewing the mission statement and should an organisation have one, it may be necessary to have it easily accessible and relevant to the current business activities and objectives.

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