When a vendor says “but, what’s our mission statement?” it can feel like an agency ploy designed to make everyone feel good while delaying real progress. When done incorrectly, that’s exactly what it is. But I am not talking about a marketing pitch or a tagline. When done right, a powerful mission statement is a succinct declaration that aligns teams and most importantly, protects us from ourselves.
Too often, when dealing with digital products, previously low-tech corporations become overwhelmed by the buffet of possibilities and too often their products fall short. Even the most disciplined industry veterans get seduced by shiny objects masquerading as new opportunities. It’s why so many digital products try too hard to do too much and miss the mark on their original purpose.
A few years ago, Pizza Hut had a struggling mobile app, plagued by technical issues and a bad user interface. Like many companies at the time, their team had fallen victim to fads and the term “gamification” had wormed its way into the brains of the Pizza Hut marketing team and subsequently its mobile products. But when you’re hungry and looking to score a quick dinner, the last thing you want to do is to go on a digital journey through sub-par software.
As we understood it, Pizza Hut had one goal: sell more pizza. So our mission was to create the quickest and easiest way for users to build an order, put in payment info, and move on. We got to work removing any unnecessary barriers and streamlined the entire process,reducing the average ordering time from 14 minutes to four minutes. We even built in a feature to allow users to work from their previous orders, reducing the return order process down to under a minute.
The results were immediate; the app went to four stars in the iTunes app store, up from 2.5. And more importantly, the company showed a 164% increase in online sales in the first week after its release. This didn’t happen by accident. The mission statement did it’s job and helped us clear away any distractions.
With Pizza Hut, things were pretty straightforward, but whether you’re engaged with consumer brands or enterprises, defining a mission should come from conducting stakeholder interviews, doing product audits and competitive analysis, and undertaking a deep-dive discovery of the organization, its people, technology, systems, principles, revenue, and clients. We wrangle all of these diverse, even contradictory, details into a single stated mission that can be evangelized across all aspects of the project team. Every feature we deliver is designed for someone in particular and tied to actual business goals.
Mission statements allow the product’s true value to endure all the struggles of personalities, budgets, timelines, technical challenges, and more.
Defining a project’s core purpose, and having everyone working single-mindedly on that purpose is the key to its success.