Why your company's mission statement is keeping you from developing into a winning organization

It's not just being ignored, it's holding you back

If you are a contractor, I’m willing to bet that not only is your mission statement ignored, it’s probably just plain wrong.

Take a look at these mission/vision statements from three of the largest U.S. Government contractors:

  • Lockheed Martin: We solve complex challenges, advance scientific discovery and deliver innovative solutions to help our customers keep people safe. (source)
  • Boeing: Connect, Protect, Explore and Inspire the World through Aerospace Innovation (source)
  • Raytheon: One global team creating trusted, innovative solutions to make the world a safer place. (source)

These companies have succeeded in spite of their mission statements and not because of them.

Collectively they have more than 330,000 employees. Do you think that any of their employees refer to these mission statements in doing their jobs? Do you think that even 1% know what their company’s mission statement is?

Your real mission…

If you are a contractor, then your mission is really to win new contracts.

The only way a contractor creates opportunity is by growing. Growth is the only sustainable way a contractor can reward its staff. It’s the best way to ensure the company is performing successfully for its customers. It's the best way to expand its capabilities.

Making growth your stated mission also makes the success of your mission measurable. It’s not just happy-words void of any actual meaning. Not only is it authentic, it’s what you are actually in business to do, and it reflects what you expect of your staff. 

When your mission is to win more contracts, it makes it clear how each part of your company can contribute. It provides direction, because everybody plays a role in winning new business. Most people don’t think of their job in those terms. But if you make it your company’s mission, it helps them to see it that way.

Making your mission “to be universally regarded as the foremost practitioners of outstanding customer satisfaction,” or whatever, isn’t going to help an operational unit struggling with resource allocation issues and deadlines achieve customer satisfaction. But operational units can contribute to winning new contracts by obtaining outstanding past performance evaluations and gaining customer insight, and resources should be allocated accordingly. 

When your mission statement is about “customer satisfaction,” the “highest levels of quality,” or similar hyperbole, it doesn’t give the various groups that make up your company any direction, tell them how to work together, or tell them how to handle the inevitable trade-offs that arise. But when you are clear and honest that your mission is growth, it tells human resources, accounting, operations, facilities, purchasing, accounts receivable, operations, and every group or department in your company what they need to focus on so they can work together to achieve their common mission. 

Making your mission to win new contracts does not mean you should just make things look good long enough to get a new contract and then do the minimum you can get away with to maximize profit. That is not how you win contract extensions, logical follow-ons, repeat business, or referrals. It also kills your past performance record. When you make it your mission to win new contracts, it means that if any part of your company fails in performance or does not achieve the highest customer satisfaction levels, it’s jeopardizing the mission.

In most companies, the staff responsible for contract fulfillment get caught between pressure to maximize profitability and satisfying the customer. In most companies, their “mission” is in direct conflict with their real goal of being profitable. This is one reason why people in the company ignore their mission statement. 

In some companies, the mission statement is written to impress their customers. The mission statements above could be examples. However, being ambiguous, saying nothing, or trying to be all things to all people does not impress anyone. If you want your mission statement to summarize what your company does, then what you need instead is an elevator speech. An elevator speech that provides a short description of what you do is very different from the goals that you exist in order to achieve. 

Developing into a winning organization

If you need a mission statement you can post on your website and tell your customers, then try something like this:

Our mission is to win new contracts. Every day we develop the capabilities, resources, and qualifications required to achieve that mission. If we fail to achieve the highest levels of customer satisfaction, if we get poor performance reports, or if our customers don’t sing our praises, we jeopardize our ability to fulfill that mission and we fail as a company. 

To become a winning organization, start by bringing everything that people do into alignment with winning. This starts when everyone realizes that growth is their common purpose. And you can reinforce that by making it the stated mission of your organization. 
 



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Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.

The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.

In addition, the groups Carl moderates on LinkedIn provide a place for tens of thousands of business development and proposal professionals to discuss best practices and network.

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