Fill the Narrative Void With a Vision Mission Statement

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Building a Storybrand" by Donald Miller. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is a vision mission statement? Why do you need one to have a successful company?

In order to have a successful company, your company’s vision mission statement also needs to follow your brandscript. There are a few key ways you can create a vision mission statement that fits your story.

Keep reading about how to create a vision mission statement according to your storybrand.

Vision Mission Statement

The “narrative void” describes a plotless, empty expanse within an organization. When there’s no story, people don’t know what roles they play, what they’re supposed to do, or why they should care. You’ll need to create a vision mission statement to fill this void.

If your company has a narrative void, all the different divisions and departments are disconnected. Only people within a department understand what that department does, and everyone’s making decisions from their own point of view. No matter how much people think their decisions affect only their departments, they do affect the rest of the organization. As a result, corporate communication becomes internal noise, social media shares confusing messaging, and local marketing descends into frantic discounting.

Culture at Void Workplaces

If a company is plagued by a narrative void, disengagement often starts straight from onboarding. At a plotless workplace:

  • On an employee’s first day, she meets someone in HR for an hour who gives her keys, has her watch a video or skim a manual about the company, and goes over the mission statement.
  • Over the next few years, the employee meets the status quo. She hits performance management metrics, gets promoted, and learns how to interact with others in the company.
  • One day, a headhunter offers her a job. Her current company suffers from disengagement and weak culture stemming from a narrative void, so she leaves, hoping things will be better elsewhere.

Gallup Polls

Gallup polls, which measure employee engagement, give some insight into both the presence of a narrative void and employee effort. Disengagement is a symptom of narrative void, and when employees are disengaged, they don’t work as hard and they’re less productive.

When Gallup started collecting data in the 1990s, they discovered that four out of five employees in the US weren’t interested in their work. Disengaged employees take more sick days and leave companies for other opportunities. Employers pay employees the same amount whether they’re invested or not, and in 2012, Gallup estimated that each year, disengagement costs the US between $450 to $550 billion.

Unless you fill the narrative void at your company and prevent disengagement, your company may suffer from some of these issues. You can learn from these goals about how to fill the vision mission statement.

The Mission Statement

Many companies try to fill the narrative void with a mission statement. Missions bring people together, but statements aren’t as effective as stories. Mission statements aren’t very engaging and are often too complicated for people to process or remember. As we’ve learned, a story is a more effective way to communicate.

Additionally, even once you employ a story, just because the executive knows the story doesn’t mean everyone does. The most important thing an executive can do is keep repeating the story until everyone gets it.

Your vision mission statement on the other hand is an important part of telling your story, and why you do it. This can help fill the narrative void.

Fill the Narrative Void With a Vision Mission Statement

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Donald Miller's "Building a Storybrand" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Building a Storybrand summary:

  • How storytelling enhances brand marketing
  • Why you should make the consumer the hero of your brand's story
  • The 7 elements that make marketing work

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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