Once upon a time, I managed the Library for a 14-office international law firm. A huge part of my job was grappling with business minutiae – including the creation and implementation of a Strategic Plan. Prior to that job, I had never been a huge fan of Strategic Plans; I thought that they relied on jargon to avoid discussing true issues.
Then, I had an epiphany. I realized that if I created and implemented a Strategic Plan, I could use it defensively. I could argue that the Library should not take on Hated Tasks A, B, C, and D, because those were not part of our Strategic Plan. I could also mount an offense: I could demand resources, based on the Strategic Plan that the institution had approved.
When I walked away from library management and became a full-time writer, I created a Strategic Plan for myself – the whole thing – a Mission Statement, Goals, Strategies, and Activities. Really. It looks sort of like an outline, and I keep it in a Word document, on the upper left corner of my computer desktop (which is otherwise bare of documents.) I refer to it regularly, to determine if I’m on track in my writing career, to make sure that I’m heading where I want to go.
And so, I thought it might be useful to spend a few Magical Words entries on building a Strategic Plan. First up: Creating a Mission Statement.
Yeah, I know. A Mission Statement is a waste of time. It’s a way of telling the world what it wants to hear without putting any muscle or commitment behind the telling. It’s a chance to say what everyone already knows. It’s an opportunity to roll out the thesaurus – or at the very least, the Buzzword Bingo card. Blah, blah, blah.
But a Mission Statement is more than that. It’s an opportunity to define the parameters of who you are and what you want to accomplish. It’s a chance to build a measuring stick, against which you will consider every specific Goal, Strategy, and Activity that you define.
Mission Statements are most effective when they’re specific. Sure, you can say, “My mission is to be a writer.” But how does that really help you chart your future? Do you want to write fiction? Non-fiction? Poetry? Do you want to write in a specific genre? Do you want to be published? By a traditional publisher? By a self-publishing venue? In print? Or electronic only? Do you want to make a living off of your writing? Or keep it as a joyful hobby?
All of a sudden, a Mission Statement isn’t so namby-pamby, is it?
See what you can put together. Share it with us in comments – or tell us why you think a Mission Statement is a waste of time. Let us know if you want comments/critiques of what you’ve put together.
And in future posts, we’ll move on to the other elements of a Strategic Plan: Goals, Strategies, and Activities
Mindy, looking forward to reading the Mission Statements of others