Simplify Your Mission Statement

Zappos insideI was watching the Today show and there was a short piece on Zappos (one of my favorite companies). I love Zappos’ culture and their commitment to their employees which is intimately tied to their devotion to provide excellent customer service.

I once tested Zappos’ customer service by calling their 800 number to see how long I could speak with their employees without purchasing anything. A sort of customer service game of chicken.

I lost.

After sharing our life stories, tidbits about our families, I basically spent the entire time interviewing the Customer Service Rep (CSR) on what it was like to work there. I had to end the call first. I was going to be late for a meeting. I looked at the clock and found that we had been speaking for over 47 minutes straight. No hold music. No transferring calls. Just two strangers talking to each other over the phone.

Later that week, I got something (a copy of their annual culture book) in the mail with a personal note from that CSR!

What an incredible testament to their culture bleeding through to their employees. Think about this, their mission is, “To provide the best customer service possible.

I love how simple this mission statement is. There’s no hoopla or complicated models or superficial language – it’s power is in it’s simplicity.

Also notice, there is no mention of having incredible products or having the latest technology (which they do) – but it’s all about the customer. Their entire essence is based around – how can we provide the best customer service?

Everything they do relates back to the mission.

Every hiring decision, every capital investment, every organizational change goes back to that simple, yet powerful mission statement.

Don’t be afraid to simplify your core message. In fact, those organizations  with the most straightforward and easy to understand mission are often the most successful.

After Zappos, here are a few of my favorite mission statements:

  1. TED: Ideas worth spreading
  2. Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)
  3. Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
  4. Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  5. IKEA: To make everyday life better for our customers.
  6. Virgin: To embrace the human spirit and let it fly.
  7. Nordstroms: To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.
  8. Hubspot: To transform how organizations attract, engage and delight their customers.
  9. JetBlue: To bring humanity back to air travel.
  10. Apple: To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.

So what is your mission statement?

Can it be reduced to one sentence or even one main idea?

When you simplify your mission statement, this allows your tribe to take real ownership of it. 

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