Thank you to everyone who has connected with us, and provided us with feedback/suggestions since our last post. We are so appreciative of your wisdom and helpfulness!
In this post, we briefly talk about the steps we took from researching, to iterating, to finalizing our mission statement.
By using the method of weighted factor models (WFM) described below, the final choice was simple to select because it was quantified and colored as the top score.
My co-founder Dr. Peter S. Park and I thought we had reached an agreement on our mission statement after completing Charity Entrepreneurship’s (CE) Founder’s Agreement document during the first month of our charity startup. However, when applying to fiscal sponsors and incubation programs, the maximum word/character limits for describing our organization poked holes in our confidence in articulating our vision.
This prompted us to finalize our mission statement in various word/character lengths.
The big question is... how do we resolve the disagreement? How can we narrow down our top mission statement options? Is there a specific methodology that could guide us?
Enter the CE’s handbook.
Almost 50% of the handbook discusses decision-making, indicating that CE places a high value on decision-making as a crucial skill for charity entrepreneurs. In Chapter 5, the handbook introduces the Swiss Army knife of decision-making, called multi-factor decision-making:
It involves combining multiple factors or variables into a single conclusion. Unlike the Swiss Army knife, this tool only gets stronger as you acquire other tools, as its combining process can get more informed and sophisticated.
In particular, it delves into the pros and cons of multi-factor decision-making using spreadsheets, or weighted factor models (WFM).
Having been a spreadsheet enthusiast even before reading the handbook, I’ve tinkered with and built sheets for everything from work tasks (like analyzing advertising campaigns, or tracking down conversions issues with marketing partners) to personal life things (like tracking my kids’ goals progress to reward them, or finding out which are the best Pokémon to invest stardust into in Pokémon Go).
Thanks to the handbook, the weighted factor model is now one of my go-to tools, and this methodology was applied to refine, converge, and ultimately select our mission statement.
Ten Steps Process
The handbook referenced this post (Using a Spreadsheet to Make Good Decisions: Five Examples), which has examples of how to apply the ten steps in different scenarios.
In short, here is the ten step process and how we applied it:
- Come up with a well-defined goal.
- To write a clear and impactful mission statement
- Brainstorm many plausible solutions to achieve that goal.
- Wrote many different mission statements
- Create criteria through which you will evaluate those solutions.
- See the full list of criteria we came up with below
- Create custom weights for the criteria.
- See image below for weights we used
- Quickly use intuition to prioritize the solutions on the criteria so far (e.g., high, medium, and low)
- The intuition ranking in our case, is how each co-founder “likes” each mission statement
- Come up with research questions that would help you determine how well each solution fits the criteria
- Step 6 and 7 aren’t really applicable in terms of additional research questions i don’t think
- See image below for the scores where we nitpicked each mission statement based on different criteria
- Use the research questions to do shallow research into the top ideas (you can review more ideas depending on how long the research takes per idea, how important the decision is, and/or how confident you are in your intuitions)
- Use research to re-rate and re-rank the solutions
- Pick the top ideas worth testing and do deeper research or MVP testing, as is applicable
- We took the highly scored missions statements and continued to iterate on them
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 until sufficiently confident in a decision.
Shallow research we did to come up with the criteria to rank each mission statement:
- Start with Why & Purpose: Understand and articulate why the organization exists, its purpose, cause, or belief. Answer the questions: Why does the organization exist? Whom does it serve? How does it serve them? ("Start with Why" by Simon Sinek, HubSpot Blog, BigCommerce)
- Clarity, Conciseness, and Understandability: Craft a mission statement that is one to three sentences long, clear, and easily understood by anyone. Avoid industry-specific jargon or complex language. (WordStream, Grammarly, Why Having a Clear Vision and Mission Statement is Vital)
- Uniqueness & Authenticity: Ensure the mission statement stands out, differentiates the organization from others, and genuinely reflects its essence. (Describing what makes you unique in a mission statement, Why knowing your unique mission is the secret ingredient, Ownr)
- Audience-focused & Stakeholder Consideration: The mission statement should resonate with and be relevant to the target audience or stakeholders. Consider the interests of all key stakeholders. (Why Mission Statements and Company Values are Essential, How to write a powerful mission statement that resonates, The Compass for SBC)
- Value-infused & Alignment with Values and Culture: Incorporate the core values of the organization into the mission statement and ensure alignment with its culture. (The 5Ps of company purpose, Why Mission And Value Statements Matter)
- Inspiration & Motivation: The mission statement should inspire and motivate employees and stakeholders. (HubSpot Blog)
- Realism & Achievability: While being inspirational, the mission statement should also be realistic and achievable. (BigCommerce)
- Inclusivity & Specificity: Be broad enough to allow for the organization's growth and change but specific enough to provide clear direction. (BDC.ca, Indeed.com)
- Engage, Collaborate, and Review: Engage a diverse group from within the organization when drafting the mission statement and periodically review it for relevance. (The Compass for SBC, BigCommerce)
WFM for Our Mission Statement
Our goal was to make our mission statement truly resonate and at the same time not a complex WFM.
Thus, we focused on the top 6 criteria shown above, while splitting the “Start with Why” concept into 3 components. We wanted to ensure that the "Why" is at the heart of it because we think it is the foundation to inspire.
Brief word about the weighting
One of the reasons why I love the WFM is that it is very flexible. You, your co-founder, and your team can come up with the weighting for the different criteria you select.
Then if something radically changes, the weighting (in the sheet shown above would be the top row) can be updated easily to reveal what option is the new winner.
Start with Why
For us, we gave “Start with Why” a big weight. Reading "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek years ago made a profound impact on me, and I have benefited from many of the principles taught in that book in my business career.
The power of a mission statement is in its ability to inspire, guide, and unify an organization while also resonating with its broader audience. It's the foundation upon which organization stories are built and legacies are created.
Thus, we used a simplified formula for a mission statement based on the "Start With Why" book:
[WHY you exist] + [HOW you achieve your Why] + [WHAT you do]
To [YOUR WHY] by [YOUR HOW], we [YOUR WHAT]
Using this formula, here's an example of the top choice that surfaced from our mission statement WFM:
StakeOut.AI fights to safeguard humanity from AI-driven disempowerment (WHY). We use evidence-based outreach to inform people of the threats that advanced AI poses to their economic livelihoods and personal safety (HOW). Our mission is to create a united front for humanity, driving national and international coordination on robust solutions to AI-driven disempowerment (WHAT).
I can send you our template to save you time
If you want to start using WFM and don’t want to spend the time to configure it, feel free to comment, message me on this forum or LinkedIn. I will send you a private link to give you a head start.
Notes on the template:
- If you are working on something that does not require a word count, then you can simply remove column B.
- You can change the weights (the top row) directly above each criteria. I like it so the weights all add up to 100 in cell C1 (or it will be cell B1, if you deleted column B because you didn’t need the word count).
- There are comments inside the cells that will hopefully help you to use the sheet. You can always comment here to ask anything :)
Please help with our question if possible
We have reached a bottleneck of our charity entrepreneurship journey and need your wisdom and help. Please answer this question on Fiscal sponsorship, ops support, or incubation? if you can spare the time.
Thank you very much in advance for your help!
We’d love to connect with you
Again, thank you to those who have connected with us, and provided us with feedback/suggestions since our first post. We are so appreciative of your wisdom and helpfulness!
Like said in our last post, what SofiaBalderson said in Writing about my job: Co-founder of a new charity (early stage) about increasing the chances of success of a nonprofit startup rings true to me:
It’s impossible to know everything needed to lead a charity effectively. Thankfully, you can access these skills and knowledge through other people. A good network helps a lot. This could be an entrepreneurship hub, a mentor, other charity founders, or industry experts that support your organization’s mission.
My co-founder and I are always looking to connect to other like-minded people, other co-founders and experienced folks who are willing to advise us.
I would like to give a special thank you to Dr. Peter S. Park for editing this post and for all our future collaborations!