'Don't Be A Dick' Is Not A Mission Statement

Image: LinkedIn

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.


Comments

    The term is actually Wheaton's law that Wil Wheaton from Star Trek, Table Top on Geek and Sunday and Big Bang Theory said at a speech. This is the excerpt from know your meme.

    Wheaton's Law is an internet axiom which states "Don't be a dick." It was originally used in the context of sportsmanship in online gaming but its scope was eventually expanded to apply to life in general.

    Origin
    The axiom was coined by American actor and writer Richard William Wheaton III (Star Trek: TNG) during his keynote speech at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in August 2007. One of the core messages of Wheaton's speech was the importance of sportsmanship in online gaming, which eventually became encapsulated in the phrase "Don't be a dick." While the actor's PAX speech is attributed as the original iteration of the law, the colloquial phrase "Don't be a dick" had been in widespread use prior to the event, since as early as 1999.

      Pointing out the phrase comes from an "internet axiom" spawned at PAX (a very male-dominated place, to be sure) does nothing to lessen the idea that it's targeted at a specific demographic which may exclude others. Their website at first glance also seems targeted at "blokes".

      I'm not saying I disagree with the mission statement at all. It's in their office as a rule to live by, and I'm sure it inspires their team. But if they're successful, there will probably come a point where they'll have to reassess and use less "offensive" language.

    It makes perfect sense when taken in the context for which it was intended. It's a mission statement for life, not a bloody company.

    Will Wheaton brought it into prominence a few years ago, though the phrase has been around a while.

    It's a stupid, non-positive, approach to manifesting an attitude. It is not customer/market focused in the slightest.

    Sinek's "Why" is a good place to start. This ain't it.

    Hi,

    I'm the founder of the Huel.

    Don't be a dick, is obviously not the mission statement.

    Our mission is to "Make nutritionally complete, convenient, affordable food, with minimal impact on animals and the environment".

    You are making a snap judgement on a tiny amount of information. Our culture handbook has had a great deal of thought, discussion, and is over 70 pages long.

    Without a great team you can't make a great company so we have a very high bar for recruitment and work hard on creating a great culture. The page on don't be a dick says - "Treat others how you want to be treated."

    Be nice
    Don’t gossip
    Be a team
    Help others
    Have integrity
    Be authentic

    We are one team.

    About 50% of the Huel team is female. This is not a "bloke" or female thing.

    When recruiting I take zero interest in gender. It's all about the person, their skills, personality, intelligence and experience. And I still interview every team member.

    I will leave you with one my favourite film quotes...

    "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgement. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

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