I spent a day last week facilitating a conversation with staff at a museum beginning the work of revising the mission and vision statements. To prep for the day, I randomly wandered the web in search of museum mission and vision statements and came away unsure of what we think we're doing when we write new guiding statements.
Yes, we're exploring, we're engaging, we work in communities. We reach out, we work with others, we want to educate and promote. Rarely anymore do we only document, collect and preserve. Should it be one sentence only? Does it need several supporting paragraphs? Is it really a true vision to say you want to be the best [insert type of museum or locality here] there is?
But the discussion with both staff and design/branding experts was an intriguing one. We raised perhaps more questions than we answered. Among them:
- Who is the mission really for? To be used internally or written so that front desk staff can articulate it to visitors?
- Why is it that sometimes artifacts seemed to sneak away from the mission statement?
- Who are we for? What does the word "family" mean? Does that mean some people stay away?
- Are there other ways to say "general audiences" rather than everyone?
- It's great to be aspirational, as in a vision statement, but does an organization really need two statements? Could it not be condensed into a single statement of purpose?
- How does that vision/mission really connect to branding and design?
- Can a museum commit to pushing all of its activities through the sieve of vision and mission? What happens if you don't?
- Can you please all of the people all of the time? (pretty much no, I'd say)
Why a bowling photo at the top of the post? Because I found what has now become my favorite vision statement online. It's for something called Bowling, Inc. and it is:
More people, bowling more often, having more fun.