Mission statement

Mission statement

A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making. It provides "the framework or context within which the company's strategies are formulated."[1] Historically it is associated with Christian religious groups; indeed, for many years, a missionary was assumed to be a person on a specifically religious mission. The word "mission" dates from 1598, originally of Jesuits sending ("missio", Latin for "act of sending") members abroad.[2]

The vision and the mission statements are often confused with one another[citation needed], and some organizations even use them interchangeably. In simple terms, the mission is the organization's reason for existence, and vision is what it wants to be[clarification needed].



Effective mission statements commonly clarify the organization's purpose.

Commercial mission statements often include the following information:

  • Purpose and aim(s) of the organization
  • The organization's primary stakeholders: clients/customers, shareholders, congregation, etc.
  • How the organization provides value to these stakeholders, for example by offering specific types of products and/or services

According to Bart (1997), the commercial mission statement consists of 3 essential components:

  1. Key market – who is your target client/customer? (generalize if needed)
  2. Contribution – what product or service do you provide to that client?
  3. Distinction – what makes your product or service unique, so that the client would choose you?

Examples of mission statements that clearly include the 3 essential components:

  • McDonalds - "To provide the fast food customer food prepared in the same high-quality manner world-wide that is tasty, reasonably-priced & delivered consistently in a low-key décor and friendly atmosphere."
    • Key Market: The fast food customer world-wide
    • Contribution: tasty and reasonably-priced food prepared in a high-quality manner
    • Distinction: delivered consistently (world-wide) in a low-key décor and friendly atmosphere.
  • Courtyard by Marriott - "To provide economy and quality minded travelers with a premier, moderate priced lodging facility which is consistently perceived as clean, comfortable, well-maintained, and attractive, staffed by friendly, attentive and efficient people"
    • Key Market: economy and quality minded travelers
    • Contribution: moderate priced lodging
    • Distinction: consistently perceived as clean, comfortable, well-maintained, and attractive, staffed by friendly, attentive and efficient people

The mission statement can be used to resolve trade-offs between different business stakeholders. Stakeholders include: managers & executives, non-management employees, shareholders, board of directors, customers, suppliers, distributors, creditors/bankers, governments (local, state, federal, etc.), labour unions, competitors, NGOs, and the community or general public. By definition, stakeholders affect or are affected by the organization's decisions and activities.

According to Vern McGinis, a mission should:

  • Define what the company is
  • Limited to exclude some ventures
  • Broad enough to allow for creative growth
  • Distinguish the company from all others
  • Serve as framework to evaluate current activities
  • Stated clearly so that it is understood by all

The mission statement ultimately seeks to justify the organization's reason for existing.

Religious mission statements are less explicit about key market, contribution and distinction, but clearly describe the organization's purpose[3]. For example: "Peoples Church is called to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and the beliefs of the evangelical Christian faith, to maintain the worship of God, and to inspire in all persons a love for Christ, a passion for righteousness, and a consciousness of their duties to God and their fellow human beings. We pledge our lives to Christ and covenant with each other to demonstrate His Spirit through worship, witnessing, and ministry to the needs of the people of this church and the community."


Some mission statements are complex, long, and very broad, for example:

Since its inception in 1982, La Unidad Latina has remained on the vanguard of political and community empowerment by developing influential leaders that strive to exert knowledge and power into its peers in order to attain mutual success. LUL is committed to academic excellence, leadership development and cultural enlightenment, enhanced by a diverse cognizant membership. LUL strives to preserve and promote an inclusive intellectual environment for its members, in addition to the general community.[4]

In contrast, other mission statements are simple and direct, for example:

"To protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists while serving the needs of its members." -American Motorcyclist Association

"We organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful" - Google

"We inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time" - Starbucks[5]

A classic example of the mission statement is the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.[6]


  1. ^ Hill, Ch., Jones, G. Strategic Management. Houghton Mifflin Company: New York, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-618-89469-7, page 11
  2. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=mission
  3. ^ "Ideas and inspirations for defining your own mission statement", with many actual examples
  4. ^ Lambda Upsilon Lambda
  5. ^ http://starbucks.co.uk/about-us/company-information/mission-statement
  6. ^ Constitution of the United States

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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