Terry Teachout’s column in today’s WSJ, Why Does NY Need Two Opera Companies, should be required reading for non-profit executives. While the focus is on opera, anyone in the nonprofit space can read this and see their own particular organization and consider their own mission statement.. While I think he overstates the case of the very short mission statement, a clear notion of “what do you do” and “why do you do it” needs to be at the core of everything the nonprofit does. Good luck to the Opera company in coming to grips with those questions.
From the article:
Good mission statements grow naturally out of sound strategic thinking. Peter Drucker, the great management consultant, said that a mission statement should be "short and sharply focused. It should fit on a T-shirt. The mission says why you do what you do, not the means by which you do it…. A mission cannot be impersonal; it has to have deep meaning, be something you believe in—something you know is right." That's what made "The People's Opera" so effective: It summed up in three crystal-clear words a mission that made sense.