Forget The Mission Statement. What's Your Mission Question? | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

Posted on by Brandon Klein

In a previous article, I shared five questions that today’s forward-thinking companies should be asking, based on input from top business consultants. This second installment, on the same theme, presents five more questions--but with a specific focus this time. These are questions that zero in on the mission and higher purpose of a company. Think of them as “mission questions.”

Most companies, of course, articulate their missions by way of formal “statements.” But often they’re banal pronouncements (We save people money so they can live better. --WalMart) or debatable assertions (Yahoo! is the premier digital media company) that don’t offer much help in trying to gauge whether a company is actually living up to a larger goal or purpose. "These are questions that zero in on the higher purpose of a company."

Questions, on the other hand, can provide a reality check on whether or not a business is staying true to what it stands for and aims to achieve. So herewith, derived from interviews for my forthcoming book, A More Beautiful Question, are thoughts from a couple of top CEOs (Panera Bread’s Ron Shaich and Patagonia’s Casey Sheahan) and a trio of leading business thinkers/consultants (the Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen, Peer Insight’s Tim Ogilvie, and SY Partners’ Keith Yamashita). The following five “mission questions” are designed to keep a business focused on what matters most.