Previously, I discussed the dubious reasons why some want to write the mission statement earlier in the strategic planning process. To read my previous article, click here.
Today, I’d like to discuss the positive reasons why it makes sense to write the mission statement later. This will round out your understanding of this part of the strategic planning sequence.
First, writing the mission statement without the foundation of the strategy discussion takes much, much longer.
At our public seminars, we often ask attendees how long it takes to write their mission statement. It’s not unusual to hear answers of a day to weeks. In our opinion, this is just too long. While the mission is a vital part of your strategy, spending too much time on it can damage the process.
The design of simplified strategic planning involves a couple of key concepts. One key concept is to move from the uninformed (by data) to the informed discussion. We also speed up the process by moving from the general and free-range discussion to the specific, bounded discussion.
Putting the mission statement later in the process allows for it to begin the more restricting conversations around intentions. Furthermore it allows your team to draw upon the foundation of homework and discussion you have created up to that point in time. In my experience, most mission statement discussions can be completed in 30-40 minutes if you do it at this point.
Second, the strategy discussion contributes to the mission statement discussion.
One thing that makes the mission discussion faster and higher in quality is the foundation of information you can draw from at this point in the process. Without that foundation, the information can be lower in quality (since it’s brought in willy-nilly) and more contentious.
Third, the strategy discussion also makes it clear whether you need to discuss or change the mission statement.
Sometimes, one of the most momentous parts of strategic planning is a fundamental shift in mission for the organization. An understanding of what your strategies are will help frame discussions about possible issues with the current mission. As a result, the mission statement may need to be changed in the future.
Also, sometimes one of the big strategic issues is a fundamental failure to support the mission with your strategy. By discussing the mission later, you will be better able to examine the fit between your strategies and your mission. Sometimes, a lack of fit will suggest revising your strategies, and you’ill want to adjust your mission to fit realities. In both cases, the later placement of the mission discussion is ideal for generating a faster, higher quality discussion.
Would you like help discussing your strategic options? For great ideas on how to improve the quality of your planning, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consider holding a one-day workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning.
M. Dana Baldwin is Senior Strategist with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: email@example.com