Saturday, September 5, 2009

First ProGen4 Assignment - A Mission Statement

Our first assignment in ProGen4 is to write a mission statement for our genealogical enterprise. Many of my ProGen4 classmates are doing client work. That isn't my cup of tea for a bevy of reasons; my preference is to speak and write. I enjoy running my mouth about genealogy, and I enjoy the solitary pursuits of research and writing.

I am ambivalent about the idea of a mission statement. While I recognize that a clear statement of purpose can be a powerful guide in any endeavor, I also have seen a lot of awful, pretentious, overblown, windy mission statements that really sound more like something to make the potential customer (or patient or student or whatever) feel good about you rather than to provide any clear statement of purpose. And there is an awful lot of "California touchy-feely school," as one fellow Coast Guard officer I once served with put it, in what has been written about mission statements. (And don't anyone jump on me for that characterization; I was born in California!)

And it too frequently happens that the windy, overblown, feel-good mission statement is not adhered to all that well, but rather is nothing more than window dressing. That is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

So the other day, as my daughter and I were coming home from the university (she works there), we talked about mission statements. Neither one of us is generally impressed, as my daughter has many of the same reservations I do about them. However, the discussion got me thinking, and while we were talking about that and other things, my back brain was working away, and I came up with this:

My mission as a genealogical speaker and writer is to produce presentations and write books and articles for audiences interested in genealogy, to inform them about sources and methods which will help them be more effective in their genealogical research.

What do you think? Let me know. This mission statement will be critiqued by my fellow ProGen4 students, and I like more input.



Thomas MacEntee said...

Great insights on the concept of mission statements. I too am in the ProGen 4 group (I am Peer Group 1) and have been working on this assignment as well.

I often use the "elevator speech" concept: compose a short speech about yourself and your goals that you could give during a short elevator ride if someone asked what it is you do.

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

Thanks, Thomas, and good luck with your mession statement assignment.

My younger daughter (not the one mentioned in the post), who has a good sense for business, said I really should pare down the statement. The first part, she said, doesn't really belong in a mission statement. It should read more like this:

To inform audiences interested in genealogy about sources and methods which will help make their research more effective.

Meh. My sentiment, as a writer, is that the pared-down version isn't even a sentence.

I like mine better. (grin)

Lee said...

A mission statement is what *you* make of it. Obviously, you're not the "overblown" kind of person who is simply trying to make the customer feel good about you, or something to that effect...LOL...But the intention behind the mission statement in this particular assignment is just what you wrote here: "a clear statement of purpose can be a powerful guide in any endeavor" and it is intended to help people *focus on* what it is they are working toward, no matter what their business is. Good luck with pg4!