The answer can be found in the following quote:
“Life is not worth living, without a purpose or meaning” – Buddha
Buddha passionately believed that people could lead meaningful lives if they understood its underlying purpose.
An organization too needs to establish a mission and its purpose. The means are bound to follow. If the purpose is noble the means will be honest and ethical. Evolving such a mission will need deep introspection and sometimes may even emerge serendipitously.
In the context of ‘Business Management’ the company mission embodies the strategic decision-makers ‘business philosophy’, and also reveals the image the company seeks to project, and indicates the principal product or service areas, and the primary customers needs the organization attempts to satisfy.
The organizational philosophy reflects basic values, aspirations and philosophical priorities that the strategic decision-makers are committed to emphasize in the management of their firms.
I believe and I have seen it happen when a mission is inspirational it energizes the entire organization. People relate to the mission by ‘Living the mission’ and translating it to achieve the objectives. Work becomes exciting as they all own the mission. A mission statement can also serve as a control mechanism to keep the company “on track” and to keep it from wandering into unrelated businesses. It serves as boundary lines to make decisions. Therefore a mission statement must be neither too narrow (rigid) nor too wide (without clear goals & direction). The mission need not mention
profitability and such like goals as it may dilute the inspirational purpose. On this a quote by Henry Ford is apt – “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business”. In another quote he reveals “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large”.
The objectives that flow out of the mission must however be specific, quantifiable and measurable and time bound. It may include profitability, market shares, ROIs or other targets. The strategy of an organization is formulated to achieve the objectives.
The mission statement of the highly respected and admired Tata Group best exemplifies what makes a mission statement really great.
“In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business but is in fact the very purpose of its existence.” – Jamsetji N. Tata, Founder, Tata Group
Founded by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata (JN Tata) in 1868, the Tata group has developed into one of India’s largest business conglomerates.
JRD Tata too continued the spirit of JN Tata’s business philosophy with the
guiding mission of the Tata group as “No success or achievement in material terms is worthwhile unless it serves the needs or interests of the country and its people”.
A pioneer in several areas, the Tata group has consistently followed the path of innovation, growth and development. Tata is credited with pioneering India’s steel industry, civil aviation and starting the country’s first power plant and the market leader in several diverse fields . It had the world’s largest integrated tea operation, was Asia’s largest software exporter, and the world’s sixth largest manufacturer of watches (Titan).
All the individuals who headed Tata institutions emphasized the importance of philanthropy and the utilization of wealth to enhance the quality of public life. The core values espoused by the group included integrity, understanding, excellence, unity and responsibility Core Values of the Tata group. The values of the founders are reflected in the mission statement of the group, which lays great emphasis on CSR.
Such mission driven organizations will have departments at all levels conduct themselves in line with the values. Training programs and other strategies too align themselves to the mission and thereby add value.
We can conclude with conviction that for a mission to be sustainable it has to reflect the values and ideals of the owner or founder or top management. I hope to host another post with a focus on the relationship of a sustainable strategy with a value-based mission.
Looking forward to your responses. Thanks.