I often get stuck in the cycle of going through my daily activities and forgetting the reason for what I am doing. As a result, I find myself wanting to skip my workout at the gym, procrastinating work, and eating unhealthy food. But the one thing that always revives myself and my energy is remembering my purpose. Why am I doing what I am doing? Why did I start a healthy diet, get a gym membership or a job in the first place? By recalling our purpose in life, we often feel more inspired and motivated to push towards our goals. This also applies in business, but we have a different name for it. A written form of our business’s purpose is titled as a mission statement. In having a well-articulated mission statement, businesses will not only have goals and a purpose for themselves inside the business, but can reflect their company values to the outside.
In Chapter 7 of The Adventure Begins When the Plan Falls Apart: Convert a Crisis into Company Success, Jim Baker highlights these importances in mission, but more importantly, he describes how a business owner can create a well-articulated mission statement. The best strategy, according to Baker, is to create a mission statement that humanizes the company’s product or service. To do this, business owners should shape the mission statement in a way that benefits the client or customer and the company as a whole. As a result, the company gives customers a personal reason to use their product or service and also provide employees with a mantra to follow that positively alters their actions with clients and co-workers.
Let’s look at an example of this mission statement. “Together, we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We’re on a journey to bring every eligible child’s wish to life – a quest sparked by the belief that a wish is integral to a child’s treatment.” This is the mission of Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit that fulfills the wishes of young children with critical illnesses. The first step to creating an effective mission statement is writing one that properly embodies what your company hopes to achieve. Make-A-Wish successfully accomplished this step. However, the second step is to reflect this statement in your everyday actions as an organization. Unfortunately, Make-A-Wish failed to do this with their recent actions.
On June 27th, 2021, Make-A-Wish CEO Richard Davis announced that all air travel wishes and wishes involving large gatherings would resume as soon as September 15th, 2021. However, there was a catch: these wishes would only be available to fully vaccinated children. Instantly, uproar and backlash began to surround the nonprofit that had previously been viewed as one of the top organizations that inclusively benefits ill children. The problem with this decision was that it strongly diverted from the mission statement that had held strong for over 40 years: equal opportunity for all children with chronic illnesses.
Not only was Make-A-Wish diverting from their mission statement, but they were also failing to concern themselves with the safety of the children who wished to become a participant of the organization. Recently, research has shown that there are many harmful side effects to children receiving the vaccine. Side effects can include swelling on the arm of the shot, muscle pain, nausea, fever, headache and more. On top of the risky side effects, the children at Make-A-Wish are often too sick to receive the vaccine in their current conditions. The concern of age also arose, as the Pfizer vaccine is only mandated for ages 12 and older; well over half of children in the United States between 12-15 and 16-17 years old are unvaccinated. Through this new regulation, Make-A-Wish knowingly planned to decrease the amount of ill children they could serve.
Clearly, the decision had too many holes and left the majority of the ill children unable to have their wish. Celebrity and actor Rob Schneider even claimed that he would not support Make-A-Wish if unvaccinated children were not granted wishes. He was right. What happened to the part of the mission statement that hopes to grant every child’s wish as it is integral to treatment?
After just one day with this decision, CEO Richard Davis instantly reversed himself. As they reported, “We respect everyone’s freedom of choice. Make-A-Wish will continue to grant wishes for all eligible children. Make-A-Wish will not require anyone to get vaccinated to receive a wish.” Although requiring vaccination was a poor decision, it was a learning point for Davis that taught him two valuable lessons. The first lesson was to not make a decision without having proper information and research:it is illegal to incentivize, mandate, or coerce one to receive a vaccine that is only authorized for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Secondly, Make-A-Wish learned the importance of staying true to their mission statement. As an inclusive, “wish granting” organization, Richard Davis had to expect backlash from such a sudden decision that took away the few “wishes” that some of these critically ill children had. The actions of Make-A-Wish portray that in challenging times such as COVID-19, a mission statement is useless if you can’t fall back on it when such difficult scenarios arise.
The reality is, many business owners struggle to find the importance of a mission and purpose. They will often turn to expensive marketing firms to create a catchy mission statement that does not truly resonate with the company’s purpose. As Jim Baker advises, business owners must look inward before looking for external help. If a mission statement is truly consistent with the way the business operates and what the business is passionate about, customers are more likely to trust the business as employees will have more purpose in their roles!