What does melody have to do with vision and mission statements? For me, quite a bit.

Merriam-Webster defines melody as 1) “a sweet or agreeable succession or arrangement of sounds” and 2) “a rhythmic succession of single tones organized as an aesthetic whole; a hummable melody.”  When I write – whether it be articles, essays, poems, or even client reports – I intentionally arrange my words and thoughts to construct a melody.  I strive for my words to be rhythmic, flow, and provide an experience for both my audience and me.

When I am called to help develop vision and mission statements, I do the same.  I recommend to clients to keep these statements simple and memorable. I want them to easily flow out of one’s mouth and inspire forward movement, to have a hummable quality to them.

Developing long, complicated statements that detail every single aspect of why, what, who, and how an organization exists and conducts its business should be anathema to leaders.  In my experience, the outcome of the latter approach results in very few people being able to recall the information when asked.  At best, they respond with an incredible set of disparate interpretations, which may point to a lack of a shared and unifying vision and strategy. When that happens, employees may find themselves disconnecting from the larger picture and turning to their specific areas (or silos) as the driving force of their work.  You can help prevent this from happening.

Next time you develop vision and mission statements, check their melody by asking yourself:

  • How memorable are these statements?
  • Are these the rights words for what we’re trying to say?
  • Are the words arranged in an “agreeable succession or arrangement of sounds?”
  • How do the words sound when spoken aloud?
  • How inspirational / motivational are they?
  • How will we keep these statements alive and present in our organization?

By:  Laiza Otero, MSOD, Organization Development Consultant

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