Through vigorous debate and discussion, your organization’s mission should be crafted, amended, or re-affirmed each year. In large organizations, this process may be conducted by representatives. In small organizations, it may be conducted with the entire general body. As a leader, your goal is to facilitate input and guide construction. This is the first challenge of balance. Push your members to achieve new heights, but ensure your goals are realistic. Drive the conversation forward, but don’t take it over.
When building a mission statement, start by thinking about who you want in the meeting. If your organization has 10 or fewer members, all members should be involved. If your organizations has more than 10 members, you’ll need to select representatives who will provide insight and defend the interests of most, if not all, members of your organization. Since the majority of your members will need to ratify your mission, representatives should be respected members of the organization who have a broad array of ideas and constituents. Ideally, you’ll be able to divide your organization into sections. A small business consulting group might have the following types of members: data analysts, consultants, and project managers. A speech and debate organization might have different categories: speech competitors, debate competitors, acting competitors, administrators. Your elected and appointed board members should be included in the mission meeting; if there’s a section of constituents not represented by an existing board member, a member should be elected or selected who is knowledgeable about the interests of that section.
You should ask all participants to arrive at the mission statement meeting with a pre-written statement and a list of possible activities that are necessary to accomplish the mission. Before the meeting starts, you should send out an agenda containing areas that must be covered. Once the mission meeting begins, start with the points of consensus before moving to the points of contention. Members are more willing to compromise and negotiate once they’ve built a sense of camaraderie. Go through the suggested mission statements and identify common themes. Once you’ve gone through all areas where there is consensus, move on to the more contentious ideas focusing first on ideas that are either most popular or will affect the largest number of members. At this point, your role as leader is both to provide your own input and guide the discussion. Advocates and detractors should both be given time to speak and debate. Ensure that only one person is speaking at a time. A group of gobbling chickens is incomprehensible. So too are members who speak over each other. All member should be contributing. If needed, call on quieter members to give their input. If a discussion gets to a point where arguments are not progressing and members continue to disagree, make a decision, adjourn for another day, or call for a vote.