Mission Statement for Human Services

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Mission Statement for Human Services

Please read the following article below. Based on the mission statements of two organizations I selected and the tools cited in the article which should be used to evaluate mission statements, I need help in comparing and contrasting the two mission statements. Additionally, what do you think both organizations should practice internally to ensure they are living up to their missions?

Organizations: (1)The TOMS Shoes company is driven by a single mission: To make life more comfortable. Towards that end, TOMS not only ensures that every pair of its slip-ons are soft, breathable, and lightweight for an optimal fit—the company has also charged itself with the responsibility of providing for the comfort of children in impoverished regions worldwide. For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased online or at retail, the company will provide a pair to a child in need.

(2) Make A Wish Foundation: A wish experience can be a game-changer for a child with a life-threatening medical condition. This one belief guides us in everything we do at Make-A-Wish®. It inspires us to grant wishes that change the lives of the kids we serve. It compels us to be creative in exceeding the expectations of every wish kid. It drives us to make our donated resources go as far as possible. Most of all, it`s the founding principle of our vision to grant the wish of every eligible child.

Wishes are more than just a nice thing. And they are far more than gifts, or singular events in time. Wishes impact everyone involved - wish kids, volunteers, donors, sponsors, medical professionals and communities. The impact varies. For wish kids, just the act of making their wish come true can give them the courage to comply with their medical treatments. Parents might finally feel like they can be optimistic. And still others might realize all they have to offer the world through volunteer work or philanthropy.

Whatever the odds, whatever the obstacles ... wishes find a way to make the world better.

"We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy."

The importance of a mission statement to effective strategic management is well supported in the management literature (Staples & Black, 1984). A mission statement may be the most visible and public part of a strategic plan. As such, steps should be taken to insure that the statement includes all of the essential components and attributes. In addition, a company mission should be evaluated to insure that it communicates clearly the desired feelings that will guide and motivate employees to action.

The purpose of this article is to present a practical framework for developing an effective mission statement. A developmental model is presented and exemplified through application to actual organizations. The proposed mission statement developmental framework is presented in Figure 1, and includes the following four stages: Orientation, Component Analysis, CommunicationAnalysis, and Applicability Analysis.

strategic planning task force is an appropriate group to do the initial development of an organization`s mission statement. However, if this group is too large, a sub-committee could be developed called a "mission statement committee" and charged with going through the suggested stages presented in this paper.

Orientation Process

The purpose of orientation is to insure that individuals in the strategic planning task force understand the strategic management process. This orientation training should raise the level of awareness about particular individual`s significance and role in planning. A training session would include the following: an overview of the strategic management process, a review of the significance of the mission statement to strategic management, and an introduction into the development process used to design an effective mission statement for their organization.

The process of developing a mission statement involves rendering differences of opinion. This is a vital part of achieving an appropriate mission statement for a firm. The task force must become aware that the process the organization goes through in coming to consensus in the development of the mission statement is as important as the output of the process - the mission statement itself.

Component Analysis

Given the understanding of what a mission statement is, the components of such a statement are important. The strategic planning task force must identify the major components to be included in their mission statement. Pearce (1982) recently identified eight key components of mission statements: customers, products or services, markets, technology, concern for survival, growth, and profitability, philosophy, self-concept, and concern for public image. These components could be used as a guideline by the committee. According to Pearce, a well conceived mission statement answers the following questions about an organization:

1. Customers - Who are the enterprise`s present and future customers?

2. Products or services - What are the firm`s major products or services?

3. Markets - Where does the firm compete?

4. Technology - What is the firm`s basic technology?

5. Concern for survival, growth, and profitability - What is the firm`s attitude towards economic goals?

6. Philosophy - What are the basic beliefs, values, aspirations, and philosophical priorities of the firm?

7. Self-concepts - What are the firms` major strengths and competitive advantages?

8. Concern for public image - What is the firm`s public image?

An actual example for each component is included in Table 1. The mission statement Committee would write a draft Mission Statement from their derived components. Actual company examples of each component is included in Table 1. The Mission Statement committee would use these components as a guide in developing their initial Mission Statement draft. Various idea generation techniques* such as Nominal Grouping or Brainstorming could be used to identify other important components for inclusion in this initial draft.

Communication Analysis

Even though the mission statement includes the necessary components, its communication effectiveness may be poor. Recent writings involving "corporate culture" and successful companies have emphasized the significance of effective communications between the organizations many constituents. (Peters & Waterman, 1982; Kennedy, 1984)

Kennedy reports:

The companies and organizations that do the best job thinking through what they are all about, deciding how and to whom these central messages should be communicated and executing the communication plan in a quality way invariably build a strong sense of esprit within their own organization and among the many constituents they serve. (Kennedy, 1983, p. 26)

Since written communication involves denotative as well as connotative meanings both are suggested as part of the community analysis for mission statement development. (Bradley & Baird, 1983)

Denotative Analysis

This aspect or stage is defined as determining the readability of the mission statement - e.g., is it written in a clear and concise manner? A classic readability index called the Fog Index is an appropriate technique to measure readability (Blundell, 1980). Table 2 illustrates how the Fog Index computed. The mission statement committee would evaluate their drafted Mission Statement to determine its readability index. If the index was considered too high for their average readership they would rewrite the MS draft by reducing sentence length and usage of multiple syllabled words.

Connotative Analysis

In their book entitled Communication for Business and Professions, Bradley and Baird reveal that the connotative meanings and emotional aspects of a written document are important. Relating this to development of a good mission statement, a Mission Statement should arouse one`s feelings and emotions for an organization. That is, an effective mission statement results in feelings that a particular organization is successful, knows where it is going, and is worthy of the reader`s time, support, and investment. A good mission statement does more than simply include the needed components; it is also inspiring and motivating. Quinn (1980) states that such a statement should create elan or create an identity larger than the limits placed upon the firm by the individuals themselves. Zaleznik (1970) has found that effective organizational "missions" help satisfy people`s needs to produce something worthwhile, to gain recognition, help others, to beat opponents or earn respect. Furthermore, according to Quinn, the firms must distinguish themselves from all others in the competitive environment. So far, at least, the mission statement must transcend the criteria usually attributed to objectives such as measurable, achievable, etc. in that it should lift the firm above its present state. Keller (1983) reminds managers that what is important is the quality, daring and sagacity of the strategy.

This connotative step for the Mission Statement committee involves asking managers to evaluate the mission statement using words that describe the feelings management wanted to be communicated. The feelings/impressions that should be present are only briefly discussed in the literature. Glueck (1980) mentions such things as coherence, agreed upon, top down, etc., while Quinn (1980) includes elan in the description.

Other concepts/words may be more representative for a particular organization and may be developed by the management team; however, the following terms are offered as suggested words to use when measuring the "felling" that others perceive to be inherent in the mission statement, the connotative meanings.

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