Is being mission driven important?

There’s nothing like being the expert from out-of-town to provide perspective. I was in Chicago on an American Association of Museums peer review assignment last week at a venerable museum, meeting with the staff and reviewing their work. While intended to be a service to the host museum, the experience invariably clarifies matters back home as well.

Evaluating the public dimension of an organization requires viewing the impressions from its many activities, actions and messages. One automatically goes first to the mission statement but there are almost always other missions being fulfilled by staff.

  • What is your mission statement?
  • What is your vision statement?
  • Are these reflected in the strategic plan?

And most importantly, does anyone pay attention to those guidelines? How do you stay on mission (or not) at your institution. Is it essential or are there exceptions?


3 thoughts on “Is being mission driven important?

  1. Yes! Knowing my organization’s mission and directing my daily efforts toward its fulfillment is essential. On a personal level, understanding mission and strategic plan gives me a sense of vocation, meaning, and purpose in my work and in my life. It also builds common ground with my colleagues–educators, librarians, IT and AV teams, curators, shop staff, security, fundraisers, admissions staff, preparators, conservators, trustees, director–who perform jobs that are so different than mine on a daily basis. While each of our roles require specialized vocabularies, action on different timelines, and distinctive relationships to the artwork in our collection as well as to the museum visitor, we share this mission (available on the museum’s website at Our strategic plan drives continuous action toward the mission. We bear it in mind when initiating and prioritizing projects. Goals are set and paced through benchmarks and budgeting.

    At the same time, we’re lucky to have a clear directive to experiment, which supports flexible, responsive, open-ended conversation about how best to live out our mission, including taking risks. (I think I would be more likely to focus on possible exceptions to staying on mission if I worked for an organization with a less articulated vision). Almost a year ago, we found a way to make that conversation transparent. We launched a blog–The Experiment Station ( In addition to enriching the museum’s public persona, I think it’s fair to say that the blog has significantly impacted the way many staff experience their jobs in relation to the museum’s mission. I’ll tease this out further in an upcoming post about mission-driven blogging . . .

  2. Pingback: 3 Ways to be a (Better) Storyteller | Talking About Talking

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