The relationship between mission statements and the people they serve
Ivan Wadeson investigates the relationship of the mission statement to audiences, visitors and participants – the public.
Preparing for the presentation on this topic I was asked to give at the AMA Mission Possible event at Sadler's Wells in London last November, I was reminded that an entire industry has grown up around mission statements. Try putting those two words into any internet search engine and returned will be pages and pages of agencies, consultancies, academics and pundits offering advice and services. This (largely American) industry and the attendant parodies (see the random Mission Statement Generator on Dilbert.com) can get in the way of realising just how crucial the notion of'mission' can be for cultural organisations or how to apply this practically.
My preferred definition of a mission statement is from Jargonbuster. This is a glossary written by Kevin Ashby and Colin Nee to help the voluntary and community sector and their funders be more consistent in the way they use technical terms. Jargonbuster describes a mission statement as:
Why an organisation or project exists and the broad effect that it wants to have. A summary of the overall difference it wants to make. The mission statement or overall aim is also usually just one or two sentences. It describes the people, situation or problem a project or organisation wants to make a difference to. It also describes the particular difference the project or organisation wants to make. As with a vision, the aim may take a long time, be very general or very specific. It is not what a group will achieve specifically this year, or next year, but the thing they ultimately want to achieve.