Your mission, should you decide to accept it…

At church today, the pastor was discussing our church’s mission statement and the process we are going through of revising it.

How many of you work for an organization that has a mission statement? OK, pretty much everyone. Who knows their organization’s mission statement or cares? Lot fewer hands this time…

Mission statements as a business fad date back to the 80’s or so when some bright managers copied the idea from the Army as a way of giving focus to their business. A mission statement was just supposed to  be the 5 W’s. Who, What, Where, When, Why.

For example- The Army (who) will invade (what) Normandy (where) June 6, 1944 (when) to defeat the German Army (why). (That’s not the actual mission statement from Overlord, but it’s pretty close)

Unfortunately, what used to be a quick sentence became a good excuse to form a committee and have meetings and generate new buzzwords and jargon. If you want to see the current state of the art in corporate mission statements, guess what? There’s a blog.

In the late 90’s, the services started to write mission statements much like a business. The best example I’ve seen of such foolishness is over at CDR Salamander’s place. Read the mission statement in his header.

What’s the dumbest mission statement/vision/buzzword bingo you’ve come accross?

Brewfan inspires a thought…

Brewfan actually read my post on small unit organization. We’ll get around to the higher levels eventually, but he comments on the difference between an accountable chain of command and some business orgs.

Interesting post. As an organizational structure this has passed the test of time. While my time in the Army was brief (3yrs RA, 3years (active) ER) I struggle with all of the experimenting with organizational structure that goes on in the corporate world. My last non-consulting job was with a company that bragged it had a ‘matrix’ organizational structure. To me all that meant was the manager(s) claimed all the successes and the matrix absorbed all the blame for failed endeavors.

This got me thinking about the changes in the services staffs at the Pentagon level. Prior to the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947, the staffs were organized much like a battalion staff on steriods. Since then we’ve seen a gradual shift to a more business-like model, with a blur between the DOD and each of the services. We’ve also seen procurement* become a nightmare that is almost impossible to understand, much less make work. I wonder if there is any relationship there.

* Army FCS, Navy LCS & DDG-1000, AirForce KC-X, you name it.