This lunchtime series is dedicated to the proposition that nothing built by human beings is forever set in stone, especially nothing made of words.

It has just now also become an experiment in whether threatening oneself is an effective motivator.

Carrie Melissa Jones recently contributed a piece that proposed that a company’s sense of purpose is best put forth on a repeated basis by a clear and comprehensive mission statement. That’s not too hard when your mission is already to change humanity.

Why Are We Here?

Example No. 1:  Hunger Task Force believes that every person has a right to adequate food obtained with dignity.

When you’re in the business of making a positive contribution to society, a mission statement is a simple and effective reminder of your purpose in life.

Example No. 2:  To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

When you’re in the business of brewing coffee, as is Starbucks, a mission statement helps you to consider your work as something more of a positive contribution to society.

Put another way, when your business is to do anything in really small increments, it helps to believe that there’s a bigger picture.  (Trust me on this one.)

Technology companies fall somewhere in-between.  They can’t claim to eliminate hunger, but it’s not as easy to make the case that you’re lifting the cause of humankind one download (or one software crash) at a time.  Jones cited the mission statement of Slack, arguing that its success is due to its having embraced its mission statement:

Example No. 3:  We’re on a mission to make your working life simpler, more pleasant and more productive.

There’s two ways you can argue about such a statement.  The left hand says, it’s simple and direct enough to give a company or team reasonably achievable goals. The other left hand says, you could apply such a mission to just about any app, anywhere.

Learning Opportunities

Could it be true that, as technologies become more specific, their makers’ mission statements grow more generalized?  Here’s one from Illumio, which Wednesday announced a new version of its Adaptive Security platform for data centers:

Example No. 4: To help our customers regain control over their applications and data.

On the one hand, it sounds noble, true and yet reasonable. On yet another hand, isn’t that just a bit too obvious?

There comes a point in time where the statement, “To produce products that people love” becomes just as foreseeable. You could embrace such a statement, the same way you embrace a six-foot, stuffed bear. Does it inspire you or just comfort you?

Here’s an idea: Share your company’s mission statement or what you think such a statement should be, and we’ll dissect it together.  I’ve got plenty of hands.

(CMSWire @Lunch is our midday pot-stirrer, designed to get you to think and comment. In the premiere feature, we ask whether the objective of today's collaboration technology is to discover what its objective is. What do you think? We invite you to take a few minutes from your lunch break to read — and weigh in.)

Title image of astronaut John Young on the moon from

Title image "brisket sandwich" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  stu_spivack

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