Mission Improbable

By Matt Davis

Credit unions have mission statements all wrong. Missions have clear beginnings and clear endings. They either start or don’t start. They can fail or be completed.

It’s easy to know when you’ve started a mission. An action takes place. Your crew marches forward. Successes and failures and learning and growing happen.

Endings are easy to decipher as well. When Apollo 11 left earth for the moon, there was no mistaking the difference between a win and a loss—a success and a failure. The same is true in a game of chess, a marriage, or cleaning a bedroom. You either accomplished it, or you didn’t. You have work left to do, or you don’t.

A quick search of the web finds credit union mission statements like “To empower members to achieve their financial goals” and “Build better lives through world-class service and convenience.” The problem with these isn’t in their aim. These are perfectly legitimate reasons for existing. The problem, instead, is that the outcomes are impossible to objectively measure. Subsequently, they’re impossible to achieve.

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