Mission Shmission? Or Mission Critical?

—by Jesse Winsell, Chair of Hampden Park Co-op Board of Directors

I recently had a breakthrough moment that made me realize why mission/vision is important for an organization. Before this, I must admit that I did not see a need for an organization to have a mission. “Mission Shmission,” I would think to myself.

To me, it mattered more that the co-op was doing a good job attracting customers and serving its member-owners. This stuff matters, of course, but my personal breakthrough helped me realize that having a mission is critical to defining what a “good job” means, and how the organization should be “serving” its members and the community.

My breakthrough came in the form of leadership training I am doing for my full-time job at Hennepin County. We were asked to first think about the legacy that we would like to have when we eventually leave our work, then to craft a leadership purpose that would allow us to get from where we are today to achieving the legacy we would like to have in the future.

After I settled on my leadership purpose, or personal mission, I found it much easier to prioritize my workload. I could focus on the tasks that aligned with my mission first, and leave other tasks for later.

This is exactly the reason it is critical for an organization like HPC to have a mission. The founders of the co-op and every member-owner after them has put time and resources (money and otherwise) into this organization with the expectation that the co-op would have a positive impact in the community and in the world. While the details of the desired legacy may be different for every member-owner, everyone involved with the co-op has some positive legacy in mind for it. And the mission helps focus the co-op’s collective energy on the things that will allow it to have a positive impact on its community.

Just as my personal mission distilled for me how I would achieve my legacy in my community, at my job, and in the world, an organization’s mission distills for member-owners, staff, and volunteers how the co-op can best create a lasting legacy.

The board of directors in December took time to revisit HPC’s mission. We found the mission posted in the back room and on one of the posters in the entryway. The result of the discussion was a couple of minor stylistic changes and a commitment to using and promoting the mission more often and in more places.

For your reference, HPC’s mission is "...to serve its member-owners and the community by promoting wholesome, healthful, and ecologically sound food consumption with the involvement of its members in food selection and the operation of the co-op."

Hopefully, you will begin to see and/or hear the mission in more places in and around the co-op. And more importantly, I hope you begin to find more examples of Hampden Park Co-op serving you and the community by promoting wholesome, healthful, and ecologically sound food consumption with your involvement in food selection and the operation of the co-op.