A mission is not a strategy.

Times are tough.
People are hurting.
Your mission to help people is critically important.
So please don’t confuse “mission” with “strategy.”
Let’s say your mission is to feed the hungry.
How do you intend to achieve that mission?
What has to happen and who has to do it? 
My guess is that you’ll need financial support of some kind.
Or donations of food or time.  
So where will the money or resources come from?
Most likely from donors and volunteers.
And to inspire those people to support your mission, you’re going to focus on . . . ?
Communicating the problem and the need, right?
I used to think that way too.
Years ago I owned a healthcare company.
Our mission was to help improve the lives of people who suffered from respiratory disorders.
Primarily through the development of innovative medical devices.
To accomplish our mission, we had to influence the network of people who served those patients.
Physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, insurance companies, government agencies, home healthcare providers.
So we tried to appeal to them by tugging on their heartstrings.
Or, as some would say, through emotional branding.
We were mission-driven, in our marketing, advertising, sales, in everything.
And it was a huge waste of time and money.
It had nothing to do with the alignment of missions.
Theirs were the same as ours.
To improve patient care.
But their desired feelings—their expectations of a new product—were much different.
Those feelings included things like reducing costs, simplicity of set up and use, and ease of cleaning and disposal.
In addition, a complex web of relationships existed among the people in that network.
So long as we appealed to them with our mission instead of with their feelings, we struggled.
Being mission-driven is a sure way to inhibit your organization’s growth and impact.
Instead, be purpose-driven.
And that purpose should be to appeal to your audience’s feelings.
To understand and empathize with their unique beliefs, priorities and aspirations.
What they value, as well as their fears, anxieties, and pains.
And especially their desire to belong and to make meaning with the exchange of their time and money.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m all for having a clear and compelling mission or cause.
One that inspires employees and volunteers and engages customers and donors.
But being driven by one’s mission is an inside-out strategy that is designed to fail in today’s excess economy.
Instead, transform your organization’s mindset and activities from inside-out and mission-driven, to outside-in and feelings-driven.
And make your mission come alive for the benefit of all of your constituents.

Tom Asacker