Vision, Mission, Schmission

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by: Sigurd Rinde

This is a true story. Nothing big, I was just reminded about it when reading David Weinberger’s Oh why can’t the marketers … learn … to … speak over at Worthwhile.

Ten years ago I was on the board of a start-up games developer. This was early geek times with average age of just under 20 for our first 26 employees, rising to 21 a year later and 60 employees. Actually our first Xmas party was preceded by a ‘parents day’ which suited me nice as the mothers were more my age…

The board of directors had to act as… ehh… directors, so we sat down and hammered out a  ‘Vision’, a ‘Mission’. Then another one, then… and so forth. Fast forward and a few years later we had ‘professional investors’ on board and the ‘Vision’ thing appeared on the agenda again.

This is the PowerPoint thingy I prepared (company name slightly altered):

First slide (our original Mission statement, founders only version):

        FUNGAME’s main objective is to be a leading player in the Interactive
        Games Industry by  combining:
        best product quality
        best technology
        widest distribution
        highest profit margin
        added value to products, marketing and distribution process.

My fellow directors nodded knowingly…

Second slide (or Mission Statement MK 2, this with employees involved when made):

        FUNGAME will at all times with no regard to short term gain strive for
        excellence in its products. Individual and corporate effort will provide
        our customer with the best experiences, visuals, music, and leading
        edge technology, developing new genres and creating all time
        best sellers.

More nodding, the meeting was going well…

Third slide (me being a tad cheeky):

        FUNGAME will produce the highest quality products, using empowered
        team dynamics in a Total Quality paradigm until we become the
        industry leader.

More nodding, although I saw the first frown. Some said "I think I can remember that one, mmm.."

Fourth slide (pushing it… using Dilbert’s excellent Mission generator):

        We have committed to synergistically disseminate scalable
        meta-services while continuing to assertively leverage existing
        excellent infrastructures.

Now suspicion crept in, uneasy shuffling in chairs… so I quickly clicked for the fifth slide (explanation!):

        A mission statement is a "long awkward sentence that demonstrates
        management inability to think clearly".
        (Definition by Dilbert)

Bedlam, some laughing, some getting annoyed, so I just pressed on with the sixth slide (nailing it):

        Why not something simple?

        We will have all the wealth in the world while everybody else dies in
        the gutter wishing they were us.

The holdouts started smiling, and the agenda item was over. No discussion, not a mention in the minutes, last Mission Statement discussion on that board of directors ever… my mission ended.

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