8 Words: Cut Your Mission Statement to the Core

Last Updated Oct 25, 2010 1:28 PM EDT

Can you write a mission statement in eight words? If you want money from the Mulago Foundation, you don't have a choice.

HBR.org editor Eric Hellweg blogs about the wisdom of the eight-word mission after listening to Mulago Executive Director Kevin Starr explain the concept during this week's PopTech conference.

Here is the format:

Verb, target, outcome.

Examples: "Save endangered species from extinction" and "Improve African children's health."

Even if you are not in the market for Mulago money, says Hellweg, this exercise can benefit almost any organization.

"It's a good exercise to consider running, if only to start real conversations at your company about what you're doing, to/for whom, and toward what outcome."

Get to work and then share your best eight-worder with us.

(Image by Flickr user TheArtGuy, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.