Here is my kids’ school’s mission statement.
Acres Green Elementary provides a positive safe environment where best teaching practices are used to educate the whole child while honoring individuality and creativity.
Here’s another area school’s mission statement.
Copper Mesa Elementary is dedicated to excellence in education and is committed to being an exemplary community of learners. Every child is worthy of a positive, successful learning experience. Our dedication is to create a child-centered environment that encourages risk taking, embraces diversity, and validates the whole child. To promote educational excellence, we will share in the responsibility to foster curiosity and a love of learning. We will model, encourage, and inspire all learners to explore the possibilities of the world around them. Guiding students to reach their personal best, we will provide positive, supportive, challenging, differentiated opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding. We are committed to recognize, value, appreciate, and take pride by celebrating the achievements of all. As a community of learners, leaders, and partners, we are united in our goal to enrich the lives of each child, as he or she becomes a life long learner seeking to reach their fullest potential.
This post is not about mission statements, but about simplicity. Specifically, simplification by reduction. Here are four things we can learn by comparing these two mission statements.
Simplify to Reach Your Audience.
Raise your hand if you read the Acre’s Green mission statement? I see most hands up. Now let’s see the hands of those that read the other mission statement. Not many hands up now I see.
Simplify to Be Believed
A simplified approach does not pretend to be everything to everyone so the message seems more honest, geniune, and relevant to those that it is meant to address.
Simplify to Demonstrate That You Value Your Audience
When you simplify by sticking to a core message, you do the work for your audience – whether that audience is reading your writing, listening to you speak, or using one of your software applications. When you throw everything on the table, you make your audience sort through to figure out what it important. And they probably just won’t do it. Or if they do they will not have a great experience that keeps them coming back.
Acres Green put more work into really thinking about what is important to them and how to communicate that as succinctly as possible. The other school’s mission statement is a statement by committee.
Simplify to Demonstrate Focus
Whether in mission statements or software design, those that follow a “let’s put in everything we can think of” approach show little understanding of their core mission, product, or audience and are, in effect, asking others to figure it out for them. The “more” approach demonstrates fear – fear of leaving something out. The work it takes to simplify demonstrates focus.
I’ll pick focus over fear any day.