Mission statements: Lofty inspiration, or contrived claptrap?

Here’s a novel idea: Start with the truth, and avoid four banal, annoying phrases.

I’ve written my share of mission statements.

I’ve lauded the “commitment to diversity” at companies where fewer than 10 percent of the managers were “diverse”—one had a gay, female, Puerto Rican director and counted her three times—and talked up “ongoing initiatives” with no budget, staffing or deliverables.

I’ve done mission-statement cute, writing snappy one-liners like, “We sell good stuff cheap.” My Wall of Shame includes enough corporate visions to qualify for sainthood.

With this in mind, here are my nominees for the emptiest, most irritating phrases in current use.

1. Creating an environment of…. Brings to mind terraria and zoo enclosures.

2. Corporate values/goals. These terms are interchangeable and cancel each other out. For instance, “Our corporate values of inclusion and mutual respect will achieve our corporate goal of $50 million in profits this year—or you’re all fired.”

3. The next level.We are afraid to put a number on this, because we think it’s going to fail.

4. Bring it back full circle. Start over without admitting we screwed up.

Another pet peeve is the flowery title. Johnson & Johnson’s Credo reads like a bad poem:

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.