I was never really a big fan of mission statements and company values of previous businesses I have worked for. They are just words that someone thought up a few years ago, and stuck on the website. Rather than being an exercise in inspiration, looking at an aggregated list of the mission statements of the Fortune 500 companies makes you realise how vague and riddled with corporate-speak many of them are. Mission statements are all too often just that – a statement of intent that is not really brought to life through the culture and daily interactions of the business.
It is interesting to see the mission statements/values below from Twitter and Apple, both of which are the first thing employees see as they enter work.
Twitter – Biz Stone – Co-founder of twitter
We don’t always know what’s going to happen. And that’s OK. Leave space for the unknown. There’s a creative answer to every problem. There are more smart people outside your company than there are inside. Use them. We will win if we always do the right thing for our users. The only deal worth doing is a win-win deal. Your co-workers are smart, and they have good intentions.
There’s work and there’s your life’s work.
The kind of work that has your fingerprints all over it. The kind of work that you’d never compromise on. That you’d sacrifice a weekend for. You can do that kind of work at Apple. People don’t come here to play safe. They come here to swim in the deep end.
They want their work to add up to something. Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Welcome to Apple
However all of that said, I think it’s very important for companies to have defined values that inform their culture, vision, hiring choices and just about everything the company do, and live and die by.
I have been at Adam for 5 years now, pretty much from the start. I think every year we try and thrash out our company values, mission statement etc. I think we have tried and failed on many occasions because we are thinking too much about them, and also I think values change as the company and the people in it evolve.
In a recent meeting at Adam we vowed to keep it simple, within a minute we just came up with our core values (Honesty, Vision and Be Exceptional). We all agreed immediately and they are now intrinsic in how we operate and what we do, and to be honest I think they always have been.