The best business mission statement I ever read. By Peter Reilly
It was late Friday afternoon when I entered the local florist. I wanted to by my wife a bunch of cut flowers. The flowers were meant to symbolise and celebrate my new management consulting company’s first contract.
After placing my order with the very cheery florist I began to wander around the shop gazing at the interesting knick-knacks. The aroma in the shop was powerful and calming. However, it was nowhere near as powerful as the article I found tacked to the front counter. Placed strategically for all customers to read was the mission statement of this little business.
As I waited patiently for my bunch of flowers to be made up, I read through the document. My main motivation for reading it, when I thought about it, had a lot to do with having just recently founded my own business. I was in the throes of penning my company’s mission statement.
This is what I read:
I believe in Good Old-Fashioned Customer Care.
I plan to promote myself and my business and give my customers the Best of Everything.
I plan to have my team as well trained as myself or better and I encourage them to learn continually and enter as many competitions and education meetings as they can. I expect to have High Standards and offer Competency and Better than Good Service at all times.
My shop will have character and quality that the public will come to expect and love. We want to impress with our work and knowledge of flowers. If we don’t know something, we will take all measures to find something out and let our customers know.
Last but not least. We will have fun keeping this standard.
It isn’t just a job to us: it is our passion!
I can’t imagine a life without flowers in it.
So let’s look after the business, the products, the customers, the team, and the rest will follow.
We will always have a flower service if we live by this standard.
Now I know that after reading this the human-resource management purists will be having a fit. They will be shouting: “It’s too long and it’s a mix of objectives, goals and a strategic plan.”
Oh and, yes, some of it is not grammatically correct.
All this aside, this mission statement has what most professional managers of national and multinational organisations fail to insert into their mission statements: soul, love, feeling and authenticity.
The mission statement evokes a sense of love and respect for the business, the employees and, most importantly, the customer.
When I spoke to Dianne, the business owner and manager, she told me that she gets a lot of comments about her mission statement from her customers, and in particular her male customers. I wonder if the reason for this is that, in their own places of employment, they have been exposed to, and expected to sign on to, a theoretically correct, sterile and somewhat uninspiring company mission statement. A mission statement developed by theoretically correct, sterile and somewhat uninspiring managers and human-resource practitioners.
So how did this mission statement evolve?
As I spoke to Dianne, it became clear that her business was not an overnight success and the mission statement was not developed in one little facilitated meeting. Her business plan and the concept of the mission statement were developed while working for other florists, where she witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly. Her business plan and mission statement development took more than seven years, and it was obviously a labor of love.
I feel that we could all take a bloom out of the book Flowers by Dianne.
How not to
How not to manage an alternative society
This starring attempt to establish an alternative management style was recently executed in the north of Australia. Critical of the direction of contemporary Western society, the group decided to plot a new course. Their brilliant achievements were documented in two press releases.
Press release number one:
The World’s Toughest Survival Test Kicks off in the Kimberleys.
“A group of daring Australians have set up a mini country in the Kimberley region of WA to test principles developed over 30 years of empirical research into the ideal human environment. More than 70 people, including 30 children, have volunteered to take part …”
Press release number two:
Three Hospitalised in World’s Toughest Survival Test.
“Three participants in the world’s toughest survival test have been hospitalised, one in a critical condition following a life-threatening asthma attack. Several bouts of gastroenteritis, headaches and infected sores have plagued more than half the project research team during the initial month.”
How not to create a strategic alliance
The following is a transcript of the radio conversation between a United States Navy ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995.
Canadians: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Americans: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.
Canadians: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the captain of a United States Navy ship. I say again, divert your course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert your course.
Americans: (With emphasis) this is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second-largest ship in the United States Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north, I say again, that’s one-five degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.
More how not to give a health report
- The patient experienced sudden onset of severe shortness of breath with a picture of acute pulmonary oedema at home while having sex, which gradually deteriorated in the emergency room.
- The patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
- Since she can’t get pregnant with her husband, you might like to work her up.
- She is numb from her toes down.
- While in the ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.
- The skin was moist and dry.
- When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.
How not to manage debt levels
The corporate prize for mismanaging debt has to go to the top 500 Korean corporations, which in 1996 had levels of debt five times their equity (currently it is a more modest 200%). At the same time, the companies listed on the Thai stockmarket had profit margins of less than 1%.
Not to be outdone, the Japanese Government is pushing up its debt levels to the stratosphere: 150% of GNP by 2002 if the forecasts are correct. The US has also starred, racking up debt at the rate of $US1 billion a day for the past two years. And finally the emerging markets have, on average, foreign debt equivalent to 62% of GNP (twice the level of the Latin American debt levels that in 1982 triggered a global debt crisis).
The brightest stars are Indonesia, which has debt levels equivalent to 350% of GNP, Thailand, (240%), and Malaysia (220%).
Fortunately, in the international capital markets, everything can be passed on to everyone else, and nothing seems to come down once it is thrown up in the air.
How not to raise spirits
A US company went through an exasperating time of reorganisation and expansion. Employees and customers alike got frustrated and several of each were lost. Senior management decided to stage a party to lift the spirits of the remaining employees.
At the party, the president was asked to buoy the group with a few well-chosen remarks. Ever the tactful manager, he declaimed: “We could not have done this without the patience, perseverance and understanding of our workers. The salespersons and line managers did a great job handling these problems. And yes, even you lower people contributed.”