Three Secrets to Building a Better Mission Statement

Post by: Mark Wallenwine, Director of Marketing, Lighthouse Therapy

How you communicate matters.

Pretend with me that you are stuck in traffic for hours. A red pickup truck starts weaving in and out of traffic. It is now coming up behind you on the shoulder. What do you think of the driver? If you’re like me, you’re probably annoyed.

Now pretend that same truck has a man standing in the bed of the vehicle. He’s dressed in a tux and holding up a sign, “Late to my wedding.” Did your perception of the driver change? I bet it did.

I got that example from Donald Miller, and I believe it demonstrates the importance of having a mission statement and communicating it effectively. Before you knew why the people in the red truck were acting the way they were, you were probably annoyed. Once you knew their mission, it would be hard not to cheer them on or even get involved by trying to move out of the way.

How do you write a good mission statement?

Let’s be honest most organizations have a mission statement, but hardly any of the faculty remembers it. 

Mission statements can be forgettable because they use flowery language and fail to possess all of these three ingredients.

First, state the problem.

In a story, no one cares unless there is conflict. Conflict creates tension and makes people pay attention. What problem is your school, department, or class trying to overcome? What stands in your way?

It’s important to note that the greater/more urgent the problem, the more people will care. Sir Isaac Newton said, “That for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The bigger the problem equals the bigger the reaction. Little problems equal little action. Are you thinking big enough? Are you and your staff solving big education problems in your community?

Second, state the solution.

How do you plan to overcome the obstacle that stands in your way? You need to communicate your plan simply. Otherwise, how will people know what resources you need or how they can get involved?

Third, talk about success.

Every good story has something that will be won or lost depending on if the hero achieves their mission. Depending on the outcome of your mission, what will you win or lose?

A simple way to remember all this is:

Problem + Solution = Success

What does this look like for a school or education department? Here are a few fictitious examples to spark your creativity. 

Example 1 – Fundraising

At Capital High, our student-teacher ratio is the highest in the region. When the student-to-teacher ratio is as high as ours, more students struggle to learn and dropout rates soar. Our millage is to pay for the heart of the school – our teachers! When you have a low teacher-student ratio, students get the individualized help they need. We expect test scores to go up, dropout rates to go down, and our community to thrive as a result. 

Example 2 – School Safety

At Lincoln Middle School, self-harm and bullying are on the rise, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We are committing to provide counseling services to any student that requests it. Students that are healthy mentally are less likely to self-harm or harm others. 

Now it’s your turn! Download your mission statement worksheet and make a mission statement that gets results.

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