Developing Under the Choko Tree's Mission Statement

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have worked in various Australian industries around the country over the last 40 years and as a result I have fairly well developed CCD (corporate crap detector). My experience with corporate mission statements and vision statements and the like has left me pretty cynical. So it surprised me that, while cruising through the book “Practical Permaculture” by Jessi Bloom & Dave Boehnlein, they would suggest drafting a mission statement, vision statement and goals for a permaculture project, in this case their homestead. Their idea being that these things keep you focussed and heading in the right direction.

My major criticisms of the corporate mission and vision statements etc are twofold –

1. They are not inclusive. They just appear from upper management in a finished form, usually with some kind of flourish, but imposed from above. There is not any pretence of consultation with anybody I know in the company. So I have no stake in the statements, they mean nothing to me, all they do is ratchet up my cynicism.

2. They are stand-alone documents with (apparently) no plan for implementation, nothing else is released and nothing else changes. The statements come out, go on the wall and that is it. They are rarely even updated. More cynicism.

After having thought about however, I considered that If they were done the right way I could see the point in having these documents in place, believe it or not, so I thought I might have a go. Once developed however, we will need to work on some of the other documents to make sure we implement it properly, but with there being just the two of us being inclusive should be easy!

Context

After some research into these things, there appears to be a hierarchy to these types of documents and it goes as follows –

1. Mission statement – residing at the top, it sets out what we are trying to achieve.

2. Vision statement – illuminates the mission statement and lets us know what things will look like if we fully implement it.

3. Goals – A series of statements covering the important aspects of what we are doing and act as benchmarks which we can use to measure whether the mission statement has been achieved and vision statement realised.

4. Strategies – The “big picture” actions which need to be realised for us to achieve our goals.

5. Techniques – A series of activities, methods and tasks which we can carry out to enable implementation of our strategies – this is, as the saying goes, where the rubber meets the road.

The Mission Statement

Seeing as this document comes before everything else, it is what I needed to get done first even though we had bits and pieces of goals and strategies around and most of the work had been on techniques to date. Yup, I know, the process has been bum-up so far but that is how I work!

After some further research I found that there were lots of processes on the net showing you how to develop your own mission statement. They varied from four or five steps to over a dozen, could be contradictory and were all pretty confusing. Some advocated taking your goals into accound in your mission statement, but I thought they were an output from, not an input to the mission statement. Anyway Linda and I had a “board meeting” and worked through a comparatively simple 5 step process, but most of the steps didn’t seem to make all that much sense to us so having got about 80% of the way through we put it away to think about it some more.

After a couple of months I picked it back up and did a bit more research. While wandering through a site I noticed THE question to be asked to help you work out what you mission statement should be –

why do we do what we do?

That was the question we had to answer and after a short discussion we came to the conclusion that we did what we did to -

1. Improve our resilience,
2. Reduce environmental impact, and
3. teach others from our experience.

So putting it all together, our mission became:

With the mission statement now in place (check out the site’s front page) it is time to look at drafting some of the other documents in the hierarchy (more on that later). The mission statement will be reviewed at our yearly “Directors’ Meeting” in early spring and updated as required.

Be one of the first to get your hands on davids latest work. Pre-order your copy before the launch on February 10 at SLF Melb.

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