I love Dilbert. Scott Adams is often frighteningly spot-on about organizational dynamics. He did it again this morning with this strip. It reminded me of a passage from our new book, The TV Guide to Telling Your Organization’s Story.
There are relatively few organizations that are going to publicly advocate for the right to blow birds out of the sky. But a number of different groups— from environmental activists to bird-watching societies—would find the quest to preserve wetlands and waterfowl appealing and a natural fit with their organization.
That’s the magic of Ducks Unlimited—their quest attracts allies and inspires them to act. The sportsmen’s group boasts of being “the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation” … “[which] does more than any other organization to put ducks in the sky,” which is true. They also shoot more ducks out of the sky than any other organization.
You could say that making sure there are ducks to kill today and in the future is their true goal—their mission, if you will—given that about 90 percent of their members are hunters. But they (wisely) keep the focus on their quest of wetlands preservation (which just happens to further their goal).
Compare that to the American Dairy Association. Their stated mission is “to economically benefit dairy farmers by encouraging the consumption of milk and dairy products through advertising, education and promotion, to reach consumers with product benefits and advantages.”
A worthy endeavor if you’re a dairy farmer. But the quest of “economically benefitting dairy farmers” is not likely to convince people to buy more milk. So while the ADA is being candid about their perfectly legitimate mission, they are missing the opportunity to connect with their audience, who might otherwise be persuaded to offer assistance.
And they are not alone. Take a gander at your own mission statement. Is your mission about helping other people or helping yourself?
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