Corporate Vision and Mission Statements - the good, the boring, and the downright scary

Any corporation worth its salt today is almost obliged to have a Company Vision and Mission statement, like any self respecting kid in school must be seen with the latest iPhone.  The vision and mission statements shows that the company is, well, er, visionary, and long-termist, as opposed to, er, its financial results and normal knee jerk reactions which are usually extremely short-termist.   What different types of Vision and Mission statements can there be?

Mission and Vision statements usually fall into one of the following 3 categories:

  1. The truly ‘stretch’ and audacious statement
  2. Banal, generic, usually boring and meaningless mouthing’s
  3. The downright dangerous

Microsoft have recently changed their mission statement, (, from the idealistic stretch (but ultimately largely achieved) target of “A computer on every desk and in every home." (category #1 above), to “...empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”.   Guess which category their new mission statement falls into? (Answer = #2)

Apple’s is "Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store” (Answer = #2).

China Mobile’ is Our goal has always been to enhance our corporate value, maintain our sustainable long-term development and generate greater returns for our shareholders. In order to better achieve the above objectives, we have established good corporate governance practices following the principles of integrity, transparency, openness and efficiency, and have implemented sound governance structure and measures. We have established and improved various policies, internal control system and other management mechanisms and procedure for the key participants involved in good corporate governance, including shareholders, board of directors and its committees, management and staff, internal auditors, external auditors and other stakeholders (including our customers, local communities, industry peers, regulatory authorities, etc.)”, which suggests we should add a 4th category:  “excruciatingly boring and meaningless...”

Calico, the life science company recently acquired by Google, is “ to extend human life...” (full version here) (could be #1 or #3 depending upon your point of view...)

Infor, as business application software developer, is “We build beautiful business applications with last mile functionality and scientific insights for select industries delivered as a cloud service” (Answer = must be #1... when have you ever seen software before that was beautiful...!)

So far so good, and nothing in the last category (‘The downright dangerous’), until I was settling down in on an Air France flight from Paris and started reading the in-flight house magazine and started reading an article about HOP!, Air France’s low cost subsidiary.  HOP! Air France, apparently partner 15 rugby union clubs in France and say that “By supporting rugby, the airline is reinforcing the values it shares every day: boldness, agility, commitment and respect”.  Sorry, but no, no, and NO!  I do not want a pilot in the front seat who lives or flies by the values of boldness and agility!  No!  I would preferred to have seen some other words there... how about ‘experienced’, ‘calm’, ‘well-trained’, ‘skilled’, ‘careful’, or 'safe'?!  This for me is definitely in category #3. 

In the words of the old Chinese proverb, “Be careful what you wish for”!

Posted on: Tuesday, October 06, 2015