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Mission Statements Set the Tone for Everything

Simon Erickson explains how mission statements are crucial in setting the stage for entire organizations.

February 22, 2021

A company’s mission statement sets the tone for its entire organization. It’s the treasure map that spells out the path to its ultimate goal, and it aligns employees around a common purpose.

I almost always search for a company’s mission statement early on in my research. I believe it offers great context into how the business sees itself and what it is trying to achieve. Even the way the mission is worded can tell you a lot about the company’s culture. Is it overly-verbose and too “corporate” sounding? Is it too narrowly-defined and lacking a bigger-picture impact? Is it aligned with larger social movements that are also taking place?

A strong mission statement – and an executive team that faithfully sticks to it – also helps to navigate difficult decisions in challenging times. One example I’ve been recently impressed by is Cloudflare (NYSE: NET). The software provider’s mission is to “build a better Internet.” Pretty simple, right? That involves the company pushing out behind-the-scenes software code that improves the security, performance, and reliability of more than 25 million digital properties. It’s essentially powering a good chunk of the Internet.

But things got a bit trickier two years ago, when Cloudflare recognized that forum website 8chan – which was a customer of theirs – was encouraging hate crimes and violence. Cloudflare’s management publicly declared it would immediately terminate its 8chan’s contract and then work with law enforcement to help prevent any future acts of violence.

Cloudflare co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Michelle Zatlyn recently described this as their specific responsibility as a network provider, to ensure a safe Internet ecosystem.

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