Tuesday Buzz: Mission, Impossible

The painful lesson about mission statements that one professor learned from a recent assignment. Also: Sorry, micromanagers, but you're getting called out.

Reading dozens of mission statements doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend a week, but La Salle University’s Laura Otten, Ph.D., did just that recently.

“It was done in response to an assignment I gave my graduate students: critique three mission statements,” she explains in a recent post on the blog of the university’s Nonprofit Center. “That assignment will most definitely be revised before next semester. I simply cannot put myself through it again.”

Otten says the assignment was painful: There were no diamonds in the rough in the mission statements her students chose. “[N]one inspired a reaction from me,” Otten writes. “No smiles, no increased heartbeat, no wow. Nothing—except, truthfully, a massive headache.” Although her students chose nonprofits creatively, she notes, few organizations have mission statements that are clear and specific about what they want to accomplish and how.

“Kitchen sink mission statements absolutely allow an organization to flap all over in the wind, but there is absolutely nothing good in that position,” Otten writes. “Being all things to all people has never been a sustainable strategy—for businesses or individuals.”

Does your mission statement inspire with clarity, or does it discourage action with vague ambiguity?

Maintain a Healthy Distance

You’re such a micromanager, you probably don’t think this quiz is about you, do you?

It might be about you. According to About.com writer Dan McCarthy, most micromanagers don’t realize that their management style damages staff morale.

“Perhaps most managers may be well-intended, but just [not] have a clue that they are micromanaging,” McCarthy writes. “They may take pride in ‘running a tight ship’ or that ‘the buck stops with them,’ or maybe they feel that they are giving their employees direction and support. They may not trust their employees and feel they are protecting them from screwing up.”

In reality, the manager might be screwing up—by caring too much. Again, take this quiz and see where you rank. (ht @Rbt_Nelson)

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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