Most companies today require employees to memorize their mission statements. The original intent of a mission statement was to clearly explain the reason that a particular business was born. It has evolved into a boring marketing ploy and a ridiculous form of waste.
Take a look at this company's mission statement.
"Our mission is to provide a family of hospitality and services that achieves excellence and enhances lifestyles of all who come in contact with our brand ."
The company is Hooter's. What's the first thing that you think of when you think of Hooter's? Is it hospitality or lifestyle enhancements? Or, is it....well, you know? How does this mission statement help attract a customer or motivate an employee? Why even waste the time and energy to create this mission statement?
I bet some high level executive within Hooter's demands that his underlings know this statement word for word. His boss made him do it, and now it's somebody else's turn. A mission statement is created because that's what a business is supposed to do. That's the way it's always been done.
There are some creative mission statements out there, but you can't make me believe that a mission statement means anything to the fork-lift driver or data entry clerk. What makes them tick? What makes them want to help the company succeed?
A company's culture or mission can't be defined in words. It's defined in action. A good leader performs everyday tasks that make his employees stand up and recognize that the future is bright.
Our mission is to clean a bunch of houses and make every customer happy. I don't need to make an employee memorize that. They know it because their paycheck is dependent on customer satisfaction. They know it because they're trained from day one on how to perform excellent customer service. They know it because we preach it everyday.
For the record, I hate mission statements.