IT SEEMS TO US: Is your company making too many promises?

We’ve got mission statements and values statements and goals statements and vision statements . . . do we need promises, too?

RR was very disturbed by a story we saw in The Lion’s Roar, a pretty good publication for employees at the Food Lion grocery-store chain. The headline reads: “Food Lion Promise Unveiled.” Here is the lead: “Food Lion has developed a company promise, based on our Vision, Core Values, and Guiding Principles.” Oh, man, we hope this “promise” thing doesn’t catch on, like “Visions” and “Mission Statements” did 15 years ago. Wouldn’t you think that if you already have a Vision, Core Values, and Guiding Principles, that ought to be enough? This thing reeks of too many senior executives spending too much time at off-site team-building retreats with consultants.

It seems to us that The Food Lion is trying too hard to be sincere, and whenever we see that, we immediately doubt their sincerity. RR once employed an editor who was always making promises. He would promise to show up on time; he would promise to make deadlines; he would promise not to drink at lunch. He sincerely made 20 promises a day, and never kept any of them. As either Mark Twain or George Bernard Shaw once said (if you’re not sure of the origin of a quote, it was usually one of those two): If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.

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