How to write a mission statement

How to write a mission statement


Although I’m best known as perhaps the best blogger in the southern hemisphere, a columnist, raconteur, literary master, social justice crusader, sartorial paragon, steamboat captain, pen-and-ink artist,  consumer advocate, curmudgeon, letter writer, copywriter, sex symbol, myki sceptic, long-suffering Melbourne Football Club supporter, linguist, Weis’ lover, wit, social media megastar, alpine strawberry farmer, custard doughnut aficionado, corporate communications observer, botanist, northern Melburnian, former blimp manufacturer and poet, my true passion is teaching.

I love to pass on my expertise to those who possess less experience, genius and general brilliance than I do. If that sounds like you (if it doesn’t, you’re probably being a bit arrogant), I invite you to delight in my wisdom on writing mission statements:

Today, the corporation fills the societal role once taken by knights and other masked crusaders. Primarily, it exists to undertake acts of great altruism, selflessness and civic good, so it’s guided not by an “objective”, but a “mission”.

If you’re granted the great privilege of crafting this superheroic manifesto, don’t waver: your mandate to be bold and colourful is contained in the document’s very name: mission statement. If they didn’t want it to be breathtakingly inspiring, they would have called it an “aim summary” or a “goal list”.

Approach the task as you might an emergency tracheotomy or an adventure through an enchanted forest: cautiously, but with courage in your heart.

Start by donning headphones. You don’t want to be distracted, but you do want to be uplifted. The theme songs from Chariots of Fire and The Great Escape are good starting points. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is also worth consideration, just fast forward to the cymbals and explosions bit if you find the start a touch underwhelming.

In my experience, having a sword on your person as you write the statement tends to lead to significantly better copy. And don’t be afraid to use words such as “gargantuan”, “fizz”, “crimson”, “raze”, “glory” and “epochal”. They may look ostentatious at first, but are entirely appropriate.

Mission statements should not be proofread or approved. They should be uploaded onto the company website as they are written. Your mission as a mission writer is to make people feel as though they’re experiencing the text version of a clarion call.

Blow that trumpet loud.


An edited version of this article first appeared in the MyCareer section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

You can read the column – Benign to Five – in those papers every Saturday, and if you miss it, you can look it up online in the Workplace section of The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, WAToday and Brisbane Times. (I now wankishly call myself a “syndicated columnist” on my CV.)

Read more Haught newspaper columns

Comments ( 3 )

  1. Replyveloaficionado
    You forgot a vital inclusion. it MUST contain the phrases "value-add/ing/ed/ition", "customer/client-focussed" and "going forward", and the words "pro-active", "deliverables" and "integrity", preferably in the same sentence, at least 4 times. TO be creative, you could toy with "down-drawables", "critical path analysis", "measurable outcomes", "organizational assets", "feculent jargonism" and "chronic group onanists" to spice it up in a 'beyond-the beige-cubicle' critical path going forward.
  2. ReplyJulie Aysom
    This very article, seen in the SMH and subsequently cut out and pasted into my diary, led me to become your humble disciple, Jonathan. If only you were a teacher in my school...I can imagine how you would enliven our incredibly dreary staff meetings. Sigh
    • ReplyHaught
      That's very kind, Julie. I have to be honest, I'd find the playground way too much fun to ever go into the staff room.

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