Ashridge Mission Model is a mission statement creation by the Ashridge Strategic Management Research Center. Ashridge Strategic Management Center’s founding director, Andrew Campbell, has spent much of his professional career studying mission statements. In fact, Campbell’s framework of four important mission statement dimensions has come to be known as the Ashridge Mission Model (cf. Campbell, 1992). His four components, which include purpose, strategy, values, and behavioral standards, are defined in the first column of Table 1. The latter two dimensions, which incorporate “metaphysical” concepts, are intended to describe the organization’s culture (Stevens, 1994). While the Ashridge Mission Model is adopted as the organizing framework for this manuscript, many authors have elaborated and fleshed-out his basic categories.
Managers and employees are occasionally searching for a purpose and a sense of identity. They want more than just pay, safety and an opportunity to develop their skills. They want a “Sense of Mission“. In fact there are a number of functions that a Mission can have in any organization. These can be internal and external and include:
- To inspire and motivate managers and employees to higher levels of performance. (Sense of Mission)
- To guide resource allocation in a consistent manner.
- To help to balance the competing and often conflicting interests of various organizational stakeholders. Compare also: Stakeholder Analysis, Stakeholder Mapping
- To provide a sense of direction.
- To promote shared values amongst employees.
- To refocus an organization during crises.
- To improve corporate performance.
A Mission Statement is an articulation of a company’s mission. An often-used definition of a mission statement is: “a broadly defined but enduring statement of purpose that distinguishes the organization from others of its type and identifies the scope of its operations in product (service) and market termsÂ” (Pearce, J.: The company mission as a strategic tool. Sloan Management Review, 1982, 23-3, pp. 15-24). According to Campbell, mission statements frequently do more harm than good because they imply a sense of direction, clarity of thinking, and unity that rarely exists. Instead of uplifting employees with elevating ideals, they encourage cynicism. The Ashridge Mission Model from Andrew Campbell is a method that can be used to create or analyze a Mission, Sense of Mission and Mission Statement. The Ashridge model integrates two historic schools to determine a Mission:
- The Strategic School. A Mission is primarily seen as the first step in the strategy process. It defines the business’s commercial rationale and target market.
- The Cultural/Philosophy/Ethics School. A Mission is primarily seen as an expression or statement that should ensure good cooperation between employees. It is a cultural glue which enables an organization to function as a collective unity.
The Ashridge Mission Model contains the following four elements which should be linked tightly together, resonating and reinforcing each other to create a strong Mission:
- Purpose. Three categories:
- For the benefit of the shareholders (See: Shareholder Value Perspective)
- For the benefit of all its stakeholders (See: Stakeholder Value Perspective)
- For the benefit of a higher ideal, going beyond merely satisfying the needs of its stakeholders.
- Strategy. The commercial logic for the company. Strategy links purpose to behavior in a commercial, rational, left-brain way. (Compare: Whole Brain Model)
- Values. The beliefs and moral principles that lie behind a company’s culture. A Sense of Mission occurs when employees find their personal values aligned with the organizational values. Values give meaning to the norms and behavioral standards in the company. Values are strong motivators to act in the best interests of the purpose of the company. They can provide a rational for behavior that is just as strong as strategy. But in another, emotional, moral, ethical and right-brain way. It is for this reason that the Ashridge framework has a diamond shape. Compare: Seven Signs Of Ethical Collapse
- Policies and Behavioral Standards. Guidelines to help people to decide what to do on a day-to-day basis.
Origin of the Ashridge Mission Model
The model is based on research conducted in 53 large companies by the Ashridge Strategic Management Center. Its founding director, Andrew Campbell, has spent much of his professional career studying mission statements. CampbellÂ’s framework of four important mission statement dimensions has come to be known as the Ashridge Mission Model.
Usage of the Ashridge Mission Model
- Helps to think clearly about mission.
- Helps to discuss mission with colleagues.
- Both for developing a new Mission and analyzing an existing Mission.
- A corporate mission must not be confused with a corporate vision. A vision is a mental image of a possible and desirable future state of the organization.
Steps in the Ashridge Mission Model
Ten questions by which you can measure the quality of a mission statement are:
- Does the statement describe an inspiring purpose that avoids playing to the selfish interests of the stakeholders – shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers?
- Does the statement describe the company’s responsibility to its stakeholders?
- Does the statement define a business domain and explain why it is attractive?
- Does the statement describe the strategic positioning that the company prefers in a way that helps to identify the sort of competitive advantage it will look for?
- Does the statement identify values that link with the organization’s purpose and act as beliefs that employees can feel proud of?
- Do the values ‘resonate’ with and reinforce the organization’s strategy?
- Behavioral Standards
- Does the statement describe important behavioral standards that serve as beacons of the strategy and the values?
- Are the behavioral standards described in such a way that individual employees can judge whether they have behaved correctly or not?
- Does the statement give a portrait of the company and does it capture the culture of the organization?
- Is the statement easy to read?
Strengths of the Ashridge Mission Model
- Combines strategic and cultural motivators to guide an organization.
- The model is particularly useful to ensure that a company has a clear Mission AND it has employees with a strong Sense of Mission.
- Like the 7-S Framework of McKinsey, the Ashridge Mission Model emphasizes the need for a fit between strategy and values. Additionally the Ashridge model recognizes the importance of the link between the organizational shared values and the private values of employees and managers.
- Improves decision-making. Raises energy levels. Reduces the need for supervision. Promotes constructive behavior. Increases satisfaction and loyalty.
- Puts corporate purpose as the corner stone and starting point of mission.
Limitations of the Ashridge Mission Model
- Having inappropriate values or an inappropriate sense of mission is a powerful negative influence on employee behavior.
- Shared values and sense of mission often are extremely difficult to change and can become an obstacle for change.
- Strongly shared values or a strong sense of mission can lead to an insularity that becomes xenophobic.
- Creating a mission statement is often a time- and resources-consuming process.
- A mission paper may not be a ‘paper tiger’.
Assumptions of the Ashridge Mission Model
- Committed employees and teams perform more efficiently and more effectively than apathetic employees and teams do.
- People connect themselves more easily to values than to abstract strategic concepts.
- A mission must be clearly defined and managed. An intuitive understanding of mission is not enough.
Source: Andrew Campbell and Laura L. Nash – A Sense of Mission – Defining Direction for the Large CorporationBusiness frameworks like Ashridge Mission Model are invaluable to evaluating and analyzing various business problems. You can download business frameworks developed by management consultants and other business professionals at Flevy here.