What is your organization’s mission, your vision, your goal? Can you articulate it? If yes, write it below in the space provided.
Okay. Why do you have a mission statement? Is it of any more value than the parsley on your Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast plate, or is it actionable? What does it tell you to do? Is it something to which all of your employees can contribute? Can you measure if your actions helped meet the mission? Does the business strategy result from the mission statement?
Here’s one you probably haven’t thought of. Let’s say every one of your employees puts your mission statement into action. Does that improve your organization, or does it bring it to its knees? Your mission statement either communicates your mission or it does not. What does it say to your employees, to your customers? If it does not create a message that makes you unique, fix it or dump it—or say, “We are just like those other guys down the street.” Just because it communicates, does not make your mission sustainable.
Here are some real examples of hospital mission/vision statements. Read them and see if you begin to understand why I think the hospital business model is in trouble. I have not published the name of the hospital, as that is not what is important to this discussion.
Providing exemplary physical, emotional and spiritual care for each of our patients and their families
Balancing the continued commitment to the care of the poor and those most in need with the provision of highly specialized services to a broader community
Building a work environment where each person is valued, respected and has an opportunity for personal and professional growth
Advancing excellence in health services education
Fostering a culture of discovery in all of our activities and supporting exemplary health sciences research
Strengthening our relationships with universities, colleges, other hospitals, agencies and our community
Provide quality health services and facilities for the community, to promote wellness, to relieve suffering, and to restore health as swiftly, safely, and humanely as it can be done, consistent with the best service we can give at the highest value for all concerned
We are caring people operating an extraordinary community hospital.
Ensure access to superior quality integrated health care for our community and expand access for underserved populations within the community. Create a supportive team environment for patients, employees, and clinical staff.
Let’s look at some of the million dollar words in the mission statements of some highly regarded hospitals. Ensure, foster, promote, participate, create. Comprehensive. Involved, responsive, collaborate, enable, facilitate, passion, best, unparalleled, . These statements were written by well paid adults. These statements are awful. They are awful because they are fluff—unachievable. They are well intentioned but meaningless euphemisms.
Hospital mission statements are inclusive to the nth degree. They also seem very similar. If a perspective patient read your mission statement and read the mission statement of the hospital down the street, could they tell which one is yours? Probably not. Who among you has a mission statement which excludes anything?
So, let’s say your board is debating if you should buy the machine in Monty Python’s hospital skit—the machine that goes “Ping.” Which of the mission’s goals does that support?
How do you make them better? For starters, make them short. Very. Twain wrote, “If I had more time, I would have written less.
Southwest Airline’s mission statement—be the low cost carrier.
Dramatic pause. Something either contributes to the mission or it does not. Leather seats and free lunches do not.