THE question that I’m asked the most about manifestos is: How are they different to a mission statement or a vision statement? My usual answer tends to focus on two things: Who they’re for and what they’re about.
Mission and Vision Statements
The big problem with Mission and Vision Statements is that they are usually self-centred. They’re all about you! They’re a statement of what you want.
Now, this is fine if it’s just your personal statement. If it’s personal, then it doesn’t matter what other people think.
Also, this WAS fine in the era of advertising (1950-2000) where you could blast your one-way message out to the masses. And, with attention and compliance freely available this worked in principle.
In practice, the way Mission and Vision Statements were used in the 1990s was completely flawed. Typically, the ‘leaders’ of the organisation went on a weekend holiday and came up with the mantra for the future. Then, on Monday morning they’d come back and tell the workers, here’s where we’re going! Plus, they’d plaster the message all over the walls and that would be it. No participation, no involvement, no engagement.
By definition, a manifesto is public…
A manifesto is a public declaration of your intent.
At a personal level, research shows that when we make a public declaration about our intentions we hold ourselves to account at a much higher level. Basically, we don’t want to look like a fool by saying something and not delivering on it.
In a business context, the public declaration changes everything. Your aim is partly to be held to account and also to invite others to join you on your quest – your team, your customers and your suppliers. Therefore, the objective has to change. Most people aren’t interested in money so putting out a goal to earn lots of money is not going to attract your ideal clients. And, its unlikely to motivate your staff either.
Instead of the typical Vision and Mission Statement that’s all about you, it’s best to declare a goal that others may want to be part of. The not-for-profit style cause works really well. And, this is a big advantage for a smaller team who can grab a clear idea and run with it very easily. It’s a much bigger challenge for a bigger organisation. And, unless they meet this challenge of speaking to the public in ways that appeal to them, they won’t be big organisations for much longer.