A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of your company or department (it can also be personal). It is a summary of your current goals and objectives. It guides the actions of the company and provides overall direction. Most companies have a mission statement. This is not to be confused with a vision statement, which focuses on what you want to be in the future.
As CIO you should also have your own mission statement for your IT department in support of the company’s overall mission statement.
A mission driven department is focused. It serves to filter what is important from what is not. Without one there is the possibility to wander off course. My ex CEO had a clearly defined, simple down to earth mission statement for the company. We all understood it. It was easy to align IT’s mission with the company’s mission.
There is no one right mission statement for IT. Every group is different and therefore you should have a mission statement crafted according to your individual group.
When I drafted my mission statement I started with a brief introduction to set the tone. For example:
“The purpose of this document is to provide a unifying vision and comprehensive overview of Information Technology (IT) strategy in the areas of architecture, management, and systems deployment.”
Followed by the group’s mission statement. As an example:
“The mission of Information Technology is to provide strategic IT vision, leadership, and enterprise solutions to the staff so they can meet their goals, deliver results, and enhance the company’s position in the US and global markets.”
Then I followed up with specific process bullets related to how we were going carry out the mission. Try to keep to keep the entire document to a single page.
Mission statements should be specific, short and jargon free. Remember, vague mission statements lack resonance and meaning. They won’t be remembered by anyone and will likely be dismissed as too difficult to understand. It should be a precise statement of purpose.
Depending on your management style, you should have your staff help in developing the mission statement with you. Why? Input by your staff will go a long-way to ensuring that the mission statement is carried out. Without input there is the possibility of push-back from your staff which will degrade the purpose of the mission.
So you have a mission statement. But what is it? Is it just words on paper? No. Now your department, including yourself, must use the mission when making decisions. You must ask yourself, “Is this in line with our mission?”. You have to treat your mission as part of your leadership strategy not a series of bulleted checklist items to be ticked off once completed. It is a set of principles to help you and your staff manage and make appropriate decisions.
Like I said in past posts, IT departments are organic. Therefore, your mission statement should also be organic. Like your policies and procedures and DR plans, the mission statement should be reviewed constantly to ensure that the mission is still appropriate. As CIO you should also have the mission reviewed by your executive leadership and other members of the business to ensure the mission is in alignment with the rest of the company.