Bear with me while I geek out on a business issue. Earlier today, Twitter held an analyst day where it shared the company's long-term strategy. At one point, CFO Anthony Noto read this statement:
Reach the largest daily audience in the world by connecting everyone to their world via our information sharing and distribution platform products and be one of the top revenue generating Internet companies in the world.
The Internet lit up with criticism over Twitter's new mission statement. Much of the criticism came down to the fact that it isn't very inspiring. The problem? The above isn't a mission statement.
It's a strategy statement - a brief summary of a company's strategy that includes three elements: objective, scope, and advantage. It can be inspiring, but that's not its main purpose (that's the territory of mission and vision statements). As far as strategy statements go, Twitter's statement is OK. It's short and addresses all three elements. But personally, I think it needs a wordsmith.
On the other hand, a good mission statement - a short statement on why a company exists - should inspire. Here's Twitter's mission statement, which I think is pretty good:
To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.
To be fair, I don't expect most people to know the difference between a statement of strategy, mission, values, or vision. The vast majority of businesses have abused these concepts to the point that most people's eyes gloss over at the hint of any of these. Businesses stuff these statements with meaningless jargon, don't incorporate them properly, and worst of all don't lead in a manner that's consistent with their own statements. That's a shame, because the reason behind having such statements is critically important.