On a recent stop at McDonald’s, I noticed a sign that I had somehow missed on previous visits. It read:
“McDonald’s vision is to be the world’s best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.”
It was McDonald’s mission statement, the code that guides every decision made by McDonald’s employees from CEO to front-line food handler. Most corporations and agencies have such statements. Usually they are brief, succinct, and forward-thinking, a mantra of sorts that captures in a few words the thrust and purpose of the organization. The best mission statements have quality-assurance factors built into them, too. McDonald’s, for example, can gauge its success in a number of ways. How many minutes does it take to serve customers? Are the restrooms clean? Compared to other fast-food outlets, are customers getting better food at better prices?
Here’s a small sample of other mission statements gleaned from the Internet:
We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere.
Ikea’s mission is to offer a wide range of home furnishing items of good design and function, excellent quality and durability, at prices so low that the majority of people can afford to buy them.
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
To make the world’s information universally accessible and useful.
Seeing the McDonald’s mission statement made me realize that I didn’t have one for myself. Not that I was a company or a power-house entity the likes of the Red Cross or Bank of Montreal, but I was a writer with dreams and goals and occasional income – why almost a company! – so why shouldn’t I have one?
To write my own mission statement, I kicked around a few ideas. I wanted something that said in a few words why I write, what values I stood for, what distinguished me from a hundred other writers and would serve as a constant reminder of where I was heading. I didn’t want to write goals which tend to be product-driven, and short term (I will be published by 2014, for example; or I will write a break-out novel that sells 25,000 copies), but a more lofty tag line that I could post by my computer to steer me back on track should I stray or become discouraged.
Sound simple? Nope. It wasn’t easy. I sifted through my collection of written pieces looking for clues. The subjects I had previously chosen, the types of writing I had already done – even the pieces I never completed – gave me a better sense of the writer I was, and the path I had apparently already been marching down without knowing it. As it turned out, I did have a mission, only I had never tried putting it into words.
Here’s my umpteenth attempt to get it down on paper. I haven’t finished tinkering, but maybe it will do for now:
I write to entertain, inform and challenge readers, to interest them in new ideas, and to encourage them to read and learn more
It’s a pretty lofty target, and it has a literacy component which, being a former teacher, is important to me. The statement doesn’t include everything that I write, but there is a bit of wiggle room in the wording. Not enough to steer me off track, but just enough so I can flex my writing muscles now and then, and improve on skills that might help me with my mission.
So now, what about you? Do you have a mission?