Can eight words really say it all?

A client recently asked me to evaluate their mission statement. While reconsidering qualities of a well written mission statement, I came across an old blog entry on the Stanford Social Innovation Review — The Eight-Word Mission Statement, by Kevin Starr. When it comes to a mission statement, less is more, but are eight words really enough to clarify and communicate the mission of your business?

Starr, managing director of the Mulago Foundation thinks so. According to Starr, companies should be able to express their mission statement in eight or fewer words using a format of “a verb, target population, and an outcome that implies something to measure.”

The shortest mission statement I could find in my search was just three words from the Hamilton Public Library of Hamilton, Ontario: Freedom to Discover. It doesn’t necessarily follow Starr’s “verb, target, outcome” model, but it is the definition of razor-sharp clarity and, as Starr puts it, “jump-starts a productive and respectful conversation.”

So is your mission statement ripe for reduction? If you can’t condense it to eight words, perhaps you can at least try to make it something you can Tweet.

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