I have rarely seen one that is. When people want to introduce themselves, they often feel an urge to justify their existence through a mission/vision statement. They think hard, carefully weigh every word, makes sure everything is in there (employees, customers, value, the environment) and out comes the all encompassing sentence. Why are there so very few mission statements and tag lines that mean something, let alone people can remember (man on the moon by the end of the decade; 10,000 songs in your pocket, we try harder, crush Reebok, etc.)?
  • The curse of knowlege: the statements means a lot to the person who wrote it, but the boiled down summary sentence fails to convey the complex thoughts to a cold audience
  • Generic, hollow language, buzz words in a sentence that is far too long (the attached is an example generated by the hilarious Automated Dilbert Mission Statement Generator, but it seems that they took down the link).
  • Lack of credibility (a French bank claiming that it is the most customer service oriented institution on the planet will be greeted by laughter)
Mission statements can be great as a group exercise to think about your company, what you stand for and what you want to achieve. But unless you are working to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, they are hardly ever worth putting up as a slide if you only have 20 minutes to get your audience excited about your idea.
This blog post is one in a series in which I describe the full length "speaker notes" to the somewhat minimalist slides in my presentation about VC pitch presentations for entrepreneurs.