All The More Reason

Mission Statements
April 27, 2007, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Rhetoric

If there is a better example than mission statements of something that has a lot of words and yet ends up saying nothing I’d like to know what it is: perhaps the European Constitution? I had the opportunity this week to sit in on the creation of a mission statement, so if you are not familiar with its genesis here be an example.

1. Show examples of previous mission statements from other institutions.

2. Laugh outloud at the ridiculous language and run–on sentences.

3. Sit down in groups to work on your draft.

4. Look tentatively over one’s shoulder to the derided examples just “to see how they got started.”

5. Add a few more words here and there, and be sure to add “diversity”.

6. Chuckle self–consciously at the result but nod resignedly at the fact that this was the best one could do.

I could add a few steps here and there, but that’s the essential gist of it. If I had to hypothesize as to why these dandelions have taken to bloom so well, I’d wonder if there is any analogue to family crests and seals from another time. I’d bet good money that if one removed the mission statement from an institution and replaced it with one from another similar institution no one would notice the difference.

Jonathan Smith


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