Future foresight professionals and futuring creatives must have a mission statement. Otherwise they eventually feel lost about their purpose and goals.
Here's why you should do this as you build your career. Define how you placemake yourself in a crowded 'futures' space, in alignment with your values and vision.
Whether you are working in a team, run your own agency or are self employed, creating a Mission statement is the first step to having longevity and purpose in your future foresight work.
Do this before your business plan and strategic planning. It’s not always the how you're doing your work and detailed to do lists that matter, it’s why you’re doing it.
Here are reasons you need a Mission statement to anchor your purpose:
- Having a mission statement cements our resolve of who and why we serve so we are not pulled in a million directions.
- Dissecting the world around us is our job and we want to make an impact on the world.
- A mission statement will help you create optimal alignment with your clients and collaborators so you're not compromising on your values.
We have to build a strong foundation of intentionality! And that starts with a Mission statement.
Try it. You will never look back and once you have one, it will be influence your strategy and business plan, and make it that much more:
Defining your mission is essential and the first thing we teach in the World Building Framework inside our Learning atelier: Mission Vision.
This is how we build longevity and positioning in our work. Through our mission.
It is what I did over 10 years ago to position myself as a Futurist and it was the best decision I ever made. It gave me strength, resolve, courage to pursue my vision for the world, inform how and why I run a business putting social and climate justice as my north star.
It has not always been easy writing down that clarity in a clear, concise statement. And to be completely transparent, it's an ongoing process. I reviewed my mission statement last year and am about to tweak it again. But some things don't change because they are so integral to who you are.
Here's the thing about having a mission as a foresight professional and/or creative
Having a mission is often engrained for activists. Companies will have a mission statement or even scientists.
Why not for foresight professionals and futuring creatives?
We are tasked with putting together forecasts or concepts that propose this idea that we are going to create a better world. We are agents of change. We are patrons for positive innovations and have influence.
But we are often not clear on how do we drive change. We need to have a bigger conversation about having a clear mission in the future foresight world and being strong about it.
We have to create (and that's part of why we are writing about this here):
- Collective Motivation
- Collective Conversation
- Collective Mirroring
So let's get into the 6 steps I recommend.
But first the Why?
A Mission Statement brings clarity and focus to the work you want to do and the people or organisations you want to associate with.
It also allows you to future cast yourself and put down in writing what truly matters to you in order to find alignment. This creates momentum and increases our sense of what I call Responsible Guardianship for:
- our own personal mission, beliefs and actions
- the mission of our field
- how we want to make a positive impact in the world
Here are some key components of a strong mission statement.
1- Your mission statement should express who you are and who you serve.
Think of the specific actions and behaviours as well as qualities that have a significant impact in your life and other people’s lives in the future. It could also point to your journey. Here is an easy formula to answer “Describe your career path” by Lauren Currie OBE here.
2- Make your mission statement positive and intentional.
Do not write about what you don’t want to do or don’t want to be. Instead highlight what you want to do. Because this statement is meant to be inspirational for yourself and others. With any negative statements, find a positive counterpart.
Your Mission Statement should have an element of passion, even if it is a quiet passion so that it is motivating and compelling
3- Create a mission statement that will guide you in your actions and decisions.
Reflect on how the mission you feel you have affects other areas of your life, your work, community, the planet.
Make sure it is heart led and aligns with your deep sense of impact and how you serve. Highlight the emotional benefits for yourself and others.
4- Consider as a starting point other forms of expression like drawing, a manifesto, mind maps, journaling
To get your thoughts down, you don't have to exclusively write. Consider drawing, or a mind map. Get your ideas down and iterate in a away that feels natural to you to get started and the ideas flowing. if you enjoy writing, consider writing in long form like a manifesto.
The point is: Don't get too stuck on nailing it perfectly at first.
See it as a journal of ideas, feelings, dreams, goals, aspirations. You could also approach it as writing a Purpose statement. Here is advice on how to Write a Strategic Purpose Statement by Carrie Melissa Jones. When it comes to a Manifesto format, here are two of my favourites:
5- Keep the final version short for the 2 Cs: Clarity and confidence
Strong mission statements tend to be three to five sentence long maximum. In fact great ones are often one sentence. The length matters because the shorter the mission statement, the more confidence it conveys.
6- Look to sources outside your echo chamber
In my personal experience, as a hypersensitive complex thinker I struggle to simplify what I am thinking or feeling. So whenever I update my mission statement, it is a very challenging exercise. Plus you can fall prey to your own biases, false assumptions dictated by your field and its groupthink.
When I got on my journey to creating a mission statement, instead of looking to the most original future thinkers for inspiration, I did something that I recommend ( it might seem counter intuitive for someone who is always researching weak signals, original thinkers and pioneering innovations):
I looked to leaders who serve the mainstream and serve millions of people. I used their mission statements as an example of what I should strive for, especially in terms of directness and conciseness.
These are the mission statements that are often written in a way that is clear, direct and conveys confidence.
Conciseness sometimes for highly creative minds can be hard to do. What I mean by this is communicate in a succinct, cut to the chase way.
For example the mission statement Nathan Barry created for ConvertKit is powerful and simple. If you don't know ConvertKit, it is a marketing platform for online creators.
Their mission statement:
We exist to help creators earn a living.
Now so let's look at Nike the biggest sportswear brand in the world:
Just do it.
Don't be fooled by the brevity. Behind the scenes of Nike and ConvertKit's mission statements are so much more than one sentence.
For example ConvertKit goes on to write to explain their mission statement:
What’s a creator? A creator might be a blogger, author, maker, YouTuber, poet, painter, musician, podcaster, chef, designer, or teacher. What binds the creators we serve together is that they make a living doing work that matters, and they earn that living online.
They go on to explain their vision and values here.
The mission statement for the Trend Atelier community is one sentence:
Where creatives decode the future and lead visionary change
Then we go on to explain more in detail:
To elevate the work of future forecasters to envision and create a preferable future. Our community members work across industries and cultures around the world. We support each other in envisioning and leading a more regenerative and ethical future.
Here's a final recap:
- Keep your Mission statement passionate and personal. Express yourself.
- Once you have explored, make your final version simple and brief
- Use the mission statement in your materials, profiles and share it with the world to attract your people and create alignment
- You will start with a first version and over time you will change it. And that's to be expected.
My final advice:
Refer back to your Mission statement, put it somewhere visible in your space so you never loose track of who you are, why you're doing future foresight work and who you serve.
Before even going deep into future foresight work because you think it’s a great job or because you aspire to help others prepare for the future, I invite you to dig deeper into your motivations.
Creating your mission statement may be the hardest thing you do and take months. Remember this is a journey not a destination, a marathon not a sprint.
In today's world we need a mission because of the polycrisis we face. See yourself as a bamboo tree: flexible but unbreakable in the face of changing trends and challenging forces. Everyone’s role matters and we are witnessing a wave of foresight professionals and creatives seeking to make a difference.
You can master key foresight skills such as scenario planning, data gathering, primary research, identifying weak signals. But it is hard to teach someone how to have a mission. I can only encourage you to quiet the 'doing', awaken the 'reflecting'. Listen to yourself, your calling in this world, form kinships and the rest will follow.
When you're ready, there are 3 ways Trend Atelier can help you:
- --> Complete our World Building Quiz here to receive your free step by step guide to futuring based on your archetype
- --> Join the Trend Atelier Community to benefit from life changing and ongoing guidance in your future insights, methods and approaches.
- --> Join the waitlist for our online mastercourse