During the 2003-2004 academic year, we made the decision to write a mission statement with three things clearly in mind: 1) what will be our myopic focus every day when we arrive to work; 2) are we providing words which will resonate in both their relevance and simplicity to our key stakeholders; 3) will the words stand the “test of time”.
For inspiration, our team read the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. We were motivated to “be great” in both words and actions! Collins speaks of great organizations having a myopic focus which is clear to its customers and guides (with simplicity) their entire purpose. This was exactly what we set out to do!
In Chapter Five of his book, Collins references the famous essay written by Isaiah Berlin in 1993, The Hedgehog and the Fox. Berlin refers to the fox as “scattered and diffused, moving on many levels”. On the contrary, the hedgehog simplifies a “complex world into a single organizing idea”—survival! In all battles between the fox and the hedgehog, the hedgehog always wins by simply becoming a “sphere of sharp spikes, pointing outward in all directions”, which the fox can never penetrate.
Collins utilizes the hedgehog’s singular and simple purpose for life to form what he called “The Hedgehog Concept”. For Collins, “The Hedgehog Concept” is the intersection of three principles for an organization: 1) what you are deeply passionate about; 2) what you can be the best in the world at; 3) what drives your economic engine. This became our breakthrough in crafting our mission statement, and it mirrored our three goals almost perfectly. The three key aims of our mission statement became our “hedgehog concept” and they are:
Providing highly personalized services;
Developing the best prepared job seekers;
Being every employer’s favorite place to recruit
Great organizations separate themselves from simply good organizations by living a mission statement which is clear, concise, simple to understand, and acted upon each and every day with consistency and passion—and where everyone in the organization become hedgehogs!
We are proud that our key stakeholders, students and employers, consistently describe their experiences with the Office of Career Management in ways which mirror our words. And, you will see our mission statement proudly and purposefully affixed at the entrance to our office as a daily reminder to everyone who enters of what to expect.