Apple has received criticism this week for the release of its latest Mission Statement:
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad. investor.apple.com/faq.cfm
Pretty pedestrian and doesn’t actually tell us anything we didn’t already know. It hasn’t been particularly well received “This pathetic piece of generic corporate mumbo jumbo drivel” was mentioned by a tech industry insider on Business Insight.
For a company whose reputation was thought to rely heavily on its founder Steve Jobs, producing a bland description of the product range doesn’t do much to dispel that myth.
However, thanks to Apple, the raised profile of corporate mission statements may in fact be timely. Could it be simply that the world has moved on?
A mission statement is defined as:
A written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. The Business Dictionary
It traditionally outlined what an organisation was created to do and what it was practically trying to achieve. This was a useful tool in days gone by where company information was more difficult to track down and employees and stakeholders needed to be directed towards the corporate purpose.
But are mission statements really still relevant in today’s world of transparency and increased accountability? Should businesses instead be working towards something more aspirational – an inspiring vision that is a description of the future, of what the organisation wants to be or what the organisation wants the world to be?
On almost every company website the About Us section lists what the company does, what it stands for, the values it represents, and the company vision. Where meaningful employee engagement exists, employees should be aware of and feel connected to company values. They should be clear about where the company is going and what their role is on that journey. And for external communications, a vision and clearly articulated values, that is real attributes not simply platitudes, should tell the whole story.
The company vision is a powerful strategic tool – what’s the long term goal? What’s the economic/ societal/ environmental impact? How will it make our lives better/ easier/ healthier/ happier?
For some of our clients Ciett, ManpowerGroup, EFE, Unilever’s Lifebuoy brand a well-crafted vision shows an ability to see beyond the product line or services and think big. It’s less introverted than a static description of the company profile, and should be measurable. Looking at the impact an organisation hopes to make on the outside world, and understanding how to engage stakeholders on that journey (e.g. investor; partner; consumer; employee) creates a far more interesting challenge than simply stating ‘what it says on the tin’.
There’s a big opportunity here to accomplish even more than a corporate mission, and given their latest advertising, I think Apple would actually agree…
This post was written by Claire Rudall
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee