United Airlines and mission statements

Most people have seen the video of a passenger being forcibly pulled off a United flight. After some missteps, one would think that the CEO would say the right thing. But he said the following (as seen on CBS news on 4/27).

“Our policies were placed ahead of our shared values and procedures got in the way of what we know is right.”

To people like me, who have worked in industry, “shared values” sounds like a mission or vision statement. The problem is that a mission statement is supposed to dictate policies and procedures and of course, it is management that defines policies and procedures. Hence, the quote sounds hollow.

What a company does can be considered its mission. If it conflicts with its mission statement, then the mission statement is out of whack.

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