Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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The Folly of the Mission Statement

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In this paper I will copy and analyze some mission statements from Fortune 500 companies. I use them exclusively since they are presumably the best at what they do, and so it would be reasonable to assume that their mission statements are some of the better ones available.

Advanced Auto Parts
It is the Mission of Advance Auto Parts to provide personal vehicle owners and enthusiasts with the vehicle related products and knowledge that fulfill their wants and needs at the right price. Our friendly, knowledgeable and professional staff will help inspire, educate and problem-solve for our customers.

This statement basically suggests that profits are of no concern to Advanced Auto Parts, as long as their customers are happy. It also includes what many mission statements do, that is, run on sentences. It was suggested by someone, somewhere, that mission statements should be limited to one or two sentences. But what if the company’s mission is more complex than that? Is the statement more important than the actual mission?

American Standard Company (plumbing products)

American Standard’s mission is to Be the best in the eyes of our customers, employees and shareholders.

This is at least a bit more honest, in that it includes employees and shareholders, thereby suggesting that profits actually count. But it doesn’t say what they want to be the best at. Quality of products? Delivery on schedule? Biggest selection? Cheapest price?

AmerisoureBergan (pharmaceuticals)

To build shareholder value by delivering pharmaceutical and healthcare products, services and solutions in innovative and cost effective ways. We will realize this mission by setting the highest standards in service, reliability, safety and cost containment in our industry.

This is one of the best ones yet, save for the run-on sentences. They address shareholder value, cost effectiveness, and it actually describes how they intend to achieve their mission.
Anadarko (oil and gas exploration and production)

Anadarko’s mission is to deliver a competitive and sustainable rate of return to shareholders by developing, acquiring and exploring for oil and gas resources vital to the world’s health and welfare.
Once again, an excellent mission statement because it is extremely honest, without all the “the customer comes first” or “exceeding your expectations” drivel.

Becton, Dickenson and Company (medical supplies and equipment)

To help all people live healthy lives.

If this company where a “not-for-profit”, I would understand this mission statement. Since it is not, this statement is simply a lie meant to put the company in a more pleasant light than it should be. This is like my lawn care company’s mission statement being “to keep Florida’s lawns green, even if we lose money doing it”

MGM Mirage

MGM MIRAGE (NYSE: MGM), one of the world’s leading and most respected hotel and gaming companies, owns and operates 24 properties located in Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan, and has investments in four other properties in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois and the United Kingdom. MGM MIRAGE has also announced plans to develop Project CityCenter, a multi-billion dollar mixed-use urban development project in the heart of Las Vegas, and has a 50 percent interest in MGM Grand Macau, a development project in Macau S.A.R. MGM MIRAGE supports responsible gaming and has implemented the American Gaming Association’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming at its properties. MGM MIRAGE also has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for its industry-leading Diversity Initiative and its community philanthropy programs. For more information about MGM MIRAGE, please visit the company’s website at http://www.mgmmirage.com.

This is not even a good imitation of a mission statement. It’s a bragging statement, along with a commercial. They don’t tell you what they want to do; they tell you what they’ve done. It’s horrible.

My point is to suggest that, even among Fortune 500 companies, the biggest and most profitable on the planet, the differences in the style and substance of the mission statements tend to suggest that they are largely irrelevant; otherwise you would tend to see some type of pattern in them. My opinion of mission statements is that they satisfy the fantasies of those who write them, and no one else.

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