Need to know how to write a mission statement or wondering why you should? Not only are mission statements the bedrock of successful organizations and projects, but they also serve as something a tool manager can use to make better decisions. Here’s everything you need to know about why mission statements are so important and exactly how they can help project managers. Keep reading to discover a step-by-step guide plus a bonus tool suggestion that will help fast-track your education on how to write a mission statement.
What is a mission statement?
A mission statement is a written document that defines the objectives, purpose, and goals a business or project will pursue. It’s a guiding light, providing business continuity for all future actions no matter what new direction their company takes. For example, when you’re in the middle of planning a project, and you have a choice to make, a mission statement can be beneficial. It also helps communicate to stakeholders and customers what your organization is all about.
According to an in-depth study on mission statements conducted by researchers at California State University, Monterey Bay, and the University of Texas, Dallas, “a well-crafted mission statement can provide the focus and motivation one needs to take one’s business to the next level. It should be easy to remember. It should inspire and motivate everyone, and it should be compelling. The mission statement should also anchor the company’s brand promise and value.”
Who writes project management mission statements?
Project managers typically write the project mission statements. Stakeholders and team leads may weigh-in, but it’s up to the project manager to develop, research, and revise it. Once the mission statement is drafted, the project manager must create a plan that sticks to it.
Why project mission statements matter
Unlike a vision or value statement, mission statements get right to the point. In only a few sentences, a mission statement defines what a company does and who they do it for. By recognizing the purpose of an organization or project, teams can stay focused on the “what” and “why” of everything they do.
Another great benefit of mission statements? Connecting action to purpose is said to increase employee motivation, which then increases the success of projects. Not only will your mission statement make work more meaningful, but it will also increase the well-being, productivity, and development of everyone involved.
How to create a mission statement
While there is a lot of debate about how to write a mission statement, you ultimately need to consider your personal creative process and what you believe matters most for this project. The following steps will help you cover all the bases:
Step 1: Start with the big picture.
Summarize where your company is going, your shared purpose, and how this project aligns with both.
Step 2: Brainstorm adjectives.
The adjectives you use should have connotations that reflect your team’s purpose. For example, a project under a tight deadline can use phrases such as fast-track, swift, and accelerated.
Step 3: Define your audience.
Who will read this mission statement? How can you use it to serve both internal and external audiences? What groups, target markets, and project teams will benefit from this document?
Step 4: Address the four core elements of a mission statement.
- Inspiration: How did this project come to be?
- Plausibility: Is this project plan foolproof?
- Specificity: Without going too far, what are the details that make this project unique?
- Value: What value does this project provide for big picture goals?
Ideally, the essence of these answers will be condensed to your one or two-sentence statement. It might take several rounds of revisions, but distilling these four ideas into a concise explanation will make it easy for everyone who reads it to understand what the project is about beyond the deliverables.
Step 5: Get feedback from stakeholders.
Bring two to three strong options to the table so stakeholders can help you brainstorm more ideas, revisions, and perspectives.
Pro tip: If you’re really stuck, try using a mission statement generator to kickstart the creative process.
5 project mission statement examples
Get inspired by the format, language, and imagery from these mission statements by Fortune 500 companies. Note how each of the examples includes action words and varies in length.
- Microsoft: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
- IBM: To lead in the creation, development, and manufacture of the industry's most advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, networking systems, storage devices, and microelectronics.
- Walmart: To save people money so they can live better.
- FedEx: FedEx Corporation will produce superior financial returns for its shareowners by providing high value-added logistics, transportation, and related business services through focused operating companies.
- Anthem: To improve the health of the people we serve.
What makes a good mission statement?
Every good mission statement has one or more of these qualities:
- A short description of big picture goals and how this project fits into them
- The top reason why this project is important
- Details on what the project looks like
- How realistic the project is, given limitations
- Present tense language
- One or two sentences, max
- It motivates someone else, and you
Set your team up for success
Once you know how to write a mission statement, it’s time for the next step: putting that mission statement to work. Project management platforms such as Wrike make it easy to visualize how your statement will come to life with the help of illustrative dashboards, visual timelines, and individual task creation. Explore our two-week free trial and see how easy it is to connect purpose with planning in project management.