An organization’s mission statement is a concise statement saying who they are, what they do and why they do it.
A mission statement is also an organic statement that needs to evolve as an organization evolves.
For explanatory purposes let me introduce you to the imaginary Mayberry Marble Museum. Founded in 2010 by a group of marble enthusiasts. Here is the original mission statement: “The Mission of the Mayberry Marble Museum is to collect marbles from all over the world to promote awareness of marble creation and to inspire marble fans for generations to come”
I know, this is a little silly but stay with me.
The marble donations started rolling in (insert laugh) and The Mayberry Marble Museum became a physical reality. Exhibits were pretty but seriously, how long can one really stare at marbles?
Then, some bored yet creative staff, the ones who kept the doors open on a daily basis, saw some dynamic potential. The Museum started offering educational and life enriching activities using the marbles. Science classes for students on light reflection; math classes using marbles as counting tools; art classes using the marbles as subjects.
Now in 2020, thanks to the efforts of the previously mentioned bored yet creative staff, the Mayberry Marble Museum is identifiable as a delightful center for educational, creative and community building activities. To support growth in these areas the Museum is pursuing grant and private donor funding. The first thing a potential funder looks at is the mission statement. Even though what the Museum is now doing is incredibly appealing to funders those activities are not represented in the original mission statement, and funding opportunities are being missed.
The founding marble enthusiasts do not understand how the organization has evolved and do not want to change the mission statement despite the pleas of the no longer bored but now frustrated creative staff who know the current reality. This is a symptom of Founder's Syndrome and it is not good. We'll talk more about that in a future post.
How should the Mayberry Marble Museum update their mission statement? By highlighting what it has become not what it was ten years ago. Don't let this happen to you.