100 Ways to Succeed #22:

A “Mission Statement” That Matters!

I hate “mission statements.”
Or “vision & values” statements.
Especially when they appear on plasticized cards.


I totally support the notion of the importance of … Clear Values. (Hey, Bob Waterman and I practically invented the whole thing via In Search of Excellence, 22 years ago.) Like all good things, the idea has been attenuated beyond recognition. A Tepid Top Team goes “offsite,” to someplace warm in February, produces 6 insipid statements that (1) differentiate them/the company from no one; and (2) they have no clue as to what it really means to live up to these statements, assuming they were serious in the first place, and not just following the herd. (No one has absorbed Gandhi’s “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”) Then they (3) return home, have their gin-soaked “gem” immortalized in plastic … and hand it out ceremoniously to 20,000 of the Unwashed as Holy Writ.


But all that’s changed … for me!
In a flash!
Now I’m a fan!
Bring on the plastic!

I was at a WooWoo resort last week in (Warm Place), giving a speech. Got up, as usual, at 4:00am. Alas, room service not open ’til 6am—pretty crappy, but I can’t expect everyone to share my strange habits. So at 6am sharp (6:04, actually … I took note) I call and place my complex order: a pot of tea. (Period.) I’m told it will be “about 30-40 minutes.” I think to myself it’s outrageous, but I hold my tongue. (I want—NEED!—the tea.) Some 45 minutes later … NO TEA. I call room “service” … and … IT HAPPENS!

The guy says he’s sorry but …

(You know, the Gremlin stole the teapot, we’re outta hot water in Arizona, or some such.) (That’s when I … lost it … and no amount of “right breathing” helped in the least.)

Now I—finally!—realized I’d “seen” (it was almost religious) an inkling of a “mission statement” I could imagine & live with & publish & plasticize & champion!

I immediately put it on a slide, and used it to tee off my remarks a few hours later … to vigorous applause.

Herewith the “slide”/idea/Supreme Mission:

XYZ Corp: Complete Vision & Values & Mission & USP Statement

Any Service or Product is yours
for absolutely NO CHARGE
if any employee
including the CEO
or implies
at any point …

“It’s Not My Fault.”

V. Big Cheese, Founder, CEO, & Dictator

If we could flatly & finally eliminate “It’s not my fault” from the explicit or implicit vocabulary (“life style”) of room service clerks—and CEOs!—many of the world’s woes would be instantly righted.

If … ACCOUNTABILITY … and … SELF-RESPONSIBILITY … were our routine practice, well, how fabulous! How effective! How profitable!

So I invite you (Way to Succeed #22, remember) to fully adopt for yourself and your tiny or huge enterprise, temporary or permanent, my … COMPLETE VISION & VALUES & MISSION & USP STATEMENT!


Tom Peters posted this on November 2, 2004, in Success Tips.
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