On a Mission

Company mission statements fail when they’re too wordy, overly detailed or directed toward the wrong audience. If that describes yours, perhaps a revision is in order.

Columns From: 6/10/2010 Modern Machine Shop

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I’ve been reading an industrial planning book given to me by the president of the oilfield shop profiled in Julys cover story. The book is “Progressive Manufacturing: Managing Uncertainty While Blazing a Trail to Success,” written by Soli Engineer. It’s a good read about how people, products (or services) and processes form the foundation for effective management of manufacturing companies. I especially appreciate Mr. Engineer’s healthy attention to the people portion of that three-legged chair.

Part of the book touches on company mission statements. While opinions differ about the value of these statements, I think summarizing fundamental company beliefs and aspirations in a couple clear sentences is essential to providing employees with the basic guidance needed to make decisions that parallel a company’s credo.

“Basic” is the key word here. A mission statement that’s too elaborate, detailed or wordy is unhelpful. If it can’t be committed to memory, it’s too long or possibly too complicated.

I found some machine shop mission statements with a bit of Googling. Consider this opening line to one shop’s statement:

“[Our] mission is to provide machining, engineering and quality technologies that synergistically provide customers’ outcomes in excess of normal expectations.”

I get the gist, but it certainly isn’t succinct.

Others, like this one, are written as if the customer is the audience:

“Our mission…is to provide you with the highest level of quality from highly skilled people using the latest technology available.”

This is more of a customer promise than a vehicle that will help lead employees to the right solution to a challenging problem.

Of the shop mission statements I found on the Web, the one below is the best of the bunch. It pushes the limit on length, but it outlines essential company goals in a direct way so employees at all levels within the shop could find direction when faced with a dilemma. It’s also not so generic that it’s void of meaning. The thoughtfully constructed statement is from Baity’s Precision Machining in Arden, North Carolina.

“Our mission is to provide our customers with true value in all their dealings with us. What does true value mean? We will strive to understand our customers’ processes and problems. We will provide economically manufactured parts at a superior speed and quality, which meets or exceeds our customers’ expectations. We will apply the principles of employee development, advanced technology investment, experience and ingenuity to assist our customers in reducing their costs using the principles of continuous improvement.”

Well said.

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