I recently saw a LinkedIn post about the mission statement that's on the walls at food company Huel. It's a bold statement designed, I assume, to evoke strong feelings and to engage staff and customers in a particular way. But a company's mission statement isn't just an expression of what it plans to do but also a reflection of the culture its leaders want to create and nurture.
There have been some famous mission statements over the years. Google's "Don't be evil" (which it has dropped) and Bill Gates' dream to have a computer on every desk and in every home are well known. They were simple, to the point, inoffensive and inclusive.
When I see Huel's statement I don't see that.
The mission, in the centre section of the wall-sized statement, is to "Make nutritionally complete, convenient, affordable food, with minimal impact on animals and the environment". That's not bad.
But the other sections use profanity and words that, I think, are very blokey.
As a potential customer of Huel, I doubt that I would buy any other its products based on that statement.
As one of the commenters on the LinkedIn post put it:
Reading it once .. ok.
Reading it twice.. not sure how making customers happy has anything to with being a dick.
Reading it three times.. are there any women working here?...seems targeted to men and not sure I’d call a woman a dick.
Reading it four times..this has me thinking, what would they write if they were referring to a female? .. there’s a few options ..yeh not impressed at all.
Reading it everyday when arriving at work ..it’s probably not that motivating and positive, I’d personally leave :)
Mission statements might seem like a bit of a wank for some but for growing companies articulating what you're about and what matters to your business is really important.
When I spoke with Okta's founders earlier this year, they pointed out the importance of not only taking about what values are important to your business but also articulating them and living them out in a way that includes everyone and lets them see the culture in action.
I guess Huel wants to portray a particular culture of being edgy and daring. But in appealing to one target audience, I wonder if they're not excluding a much broader one and closing itself off some potentially great new people.
When my wife and I speak about corporate values (she has worked in the healthcare industry for some time) we inevitably get back to the importance of those values being clearly articulated and exemplified thorough the decisions and actions of everyone from the boardroom to the coalface.
I'm not convinced "Don't be a dick" makes the grade as a mission statement that is inclusive and clear.