Leadership Made Simple - How to create guiding principles that unites your team using a story framework

How do you create a mission statement and guiding principles that excite and unites your team?

The solution: by using story.

The information in this post will help you create a mission and guiding principles based on Donald Miller’s Business Made Simple Book.

If you’ve read best selling author Donald Miller’s StoryBrand Book, you are already familiar with the power of using a story framework to compel the mind, heart, and immediately engage deeply with people. 

Mission Made Simple Framework
The Mission Statement Simple Framework

The StoryBrand framework uses story to help businesses clarify their marketing and win more customers.

Now, with the launch of Business Made Simple book, Donald Miller and his team have developed a new set of frameworks to help leaders use story to transform their management and operation.

In part one of our post on the new Business Made Simple Book, we highlighted what a value-driven professional is and in today’s post, we’re going to look closely at the Mission Made Simple Framework to help you define your story and invite others to participate in it. 

The Mission Made Simple Framework can work for your company, career, personal life, and even for your family. 

Why a Clear Mission Statement & Guiding Principles are Critical for Successful Businesses?

First, we need to understand why mission statements are needed by looking at the fundamental responsibilities of a leader.

As a Business Made Simple coach, we teach that the leader has three main responsibilities:

  1. 01: Point to the horizon, and let everybody on the team know where the organization is going.
  2. 02: The second responsibility of a leader is to clearly explain why the story of going to and arriving at that specific destination.
  3. 03: The third is to analyze the skills and abilities of each team member and find them an important role to play in the organization’s story.

So it’s the leader’s responsibility to clearly point to where the organization is going, why the destination matters, and who is needed to help the company get there.

When your mission statement fails, your mission fails, too. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help your team understand why their work matters. 

The Five Parts to a Memorable Mission Statement & Guiding Principles

Most mission statements and core values are forgettable and boring, because:

  • Nobody remembers them. 
  • They’re not exciting. 
  • They’re corporate jargon. 
  • Your team doesn’t believe them. 

You can’t afford to have an unclear and forgettable mission statement. If your mission statement fails, your mission as a business will ultimately fail, too.

What makes the Business Made Simple mission statement effective is that it ties your mission to actionable principles that help your team know what needs to get done to help your organization advance its mission and purpose. 

The five components of the Business made simple guiding principles are:

  • 01: Create a mission statement that actually works 
  • 02: Create a set of key characteristics that will guide your development 
  • 03: Create a list of critical actions that will ensure you accomplish the mission 
  • 04: Create a story pitch that attracts resources to your mission
  • 05: Define a theme that will serve as your why if your mission

Step 01 - Write a clear mission statement for your organization 

Dilbert Mission Statement
Typical corporate business mission statement

That’s funny but there are actual businesses with mission statements like that. 

There’s a better way. 

Let’s show you. 

Business Made Simple, teaches us that a good mission statement is:

  • Short
  • Interesting 
  • Inspirational
  • Should position your company as a counterattack against an injustice 
Here’s The Business Made Simple’s mission statement formula
Mission Statement Formula
We will accomplish _________(GOAL) by ______ (DEADLINE), because of ______ (FORESHADOW THE STAKES).

Creativeo’s mission statement

Creativeo's mission statement using the Mission Statement Formula
In 2021*, we will help 20 great brands implement the StoryBrand marketing framework with confidence, because brands that get their messaging and marketing right, grow by winning more customers. *At Creativeo, though our mission remains the same, we create  a new deadline each year. 

Now it’s your turn. 

  • What does your organization want to achieve (Goal)
  • By when (deadline)
  • Because (foreshadow the stakes) 

Step 02 - define the key characteristics that will help you accomplish your mission

To help you actualize the vision of your mission statement, as the leader, you have to make sure that the right people are in place to bring that vision to life. 

So, the second part of your guiding principles package is to define the three key characteristics that your company needs in order to accomplish its mission.

By defining your three key characteristics, you’ll have clarity what kind of people you need to hire and what kind of people you need to become in order to serve your mission.

Most companies have core values which are vague. We’ve already written why core values tend to fail businesses and how you should replace them with core behaviours/key characteristics.

How to identify the key characteristics vital to your organization’s mission?

Answer the following two questions

  • What characteristics do you and your team need to develop in order to accomplish your mission?
  • What do your people need to become?

Remember, memorable and effective key characteristics are:

  • Aspirational – it’s something we are becoming together
  • Instructive – they tell your team how to behave

At Creativeo, our three key characteristics in order of importance are:
  • 01 Always be in beta. We’re StoryBrand marketers and we’re in the business of helping brands win more customers through marketing that works. This means we are always a student of great marketing. We learn, explore, and experiment to take the guesswork out of marketing that works.
  • 02 Embrace challenges, not run from them. When a client comes to us with a problem, it excites us because we have an opportunity to unlock growth for them.
  • 03 Be the Guide, not the Hero – A helpful guide is one that empathizes with clients’ challenges and is laser-focused on getting them a shocking return on their investment. 

Remember, defining key characteristics helps you to know who to hire and helps you measure if the people you have on your team are the right people to help advance your mission.

Step 03 - Identify the three critical actions you and your team need to take every day to advance your mission

Effective critical actions are repeatable, measurable, and actionable. 

Lofty guiding principles are forgotten because they don’t inspire action. 

Donald Miller - Business Made Simple
“… unless characters in stories actually do something, the mission never be accomplished”. - Donald Miller, Business Made Simple.

At Creativeo, our three repeatable critical actions are:

  • 01 We learn: we’re always in beta. That means, we’re always learning, fine-tuning, improving, and discovering more effective ways to grow our clients’ businesses. 
  • 02 We ask questions - to embrace challenges, we need to be comfortable with uncertainty and the unknown. To help us uncover the right solutions, we have to ask the right questions and actively listen.
  • 03 We write – to be an effective guide, we need to write, share, and address every question, concern, or fear our clients have about a particular marketing problem that’s preventing them from growing their business.  

Your turn

What are the three repeatable and measurable actions you and your team can take every day that will help you advance your mission?

Remember, your three critical actions need to be:

  1. Repeatable
  2. Measurable
  3. Actionable 

Step 04 - How to tell a great story that attracts people to your mission

According to Matt Harris a StoryBrand Director, there are three types of work:

  • 01 There is guesswork
  • 02 There is hard work
  • 03 Then, there are frameworks

As a business leader, you don’t want to get caught up in the guesswork. You don’t want to be throwing away money or time to see what works.

Hard work, you start to work harder, faster on the strategies and tactics you think might work, but ultimately you burn out because you don’t have the framework. 

StoryBrand is about practicality. A simple formula that will turn the same exact high yielding result every time. 

To help businesses tell their story, Donald Miller teaches us to use a Story Framework. 

When you tell your story, here’s what he suggests to do:

  • 01 Start with the problem your company helps people overcome 
  • 02 Agitate that problem to make it even worse.
  • 03 Position your company or your product as the resolution to the problem.
  • 04 Describe the happy ending people will experience if they use your product to resolve their problem.

Here’s Creativeo’s  Story

Creativeo's Story & Theme
Many business leaders love the StoryBrand Marketing Framework but struggle to implement it successfully.  They read the book, attend the workshop but they’re still frustrated with their messaging, website, and marketing.  At Creativeo, we help clients take away the guesswork and frustration by implementing the entire StoryBrand marketing framework across their business. As a result, businesses finally feel confident about their StoryBrand messaging and marketing, and start to win more customers, and grow their revenue. 

Did you notice the formula? 

We identified the problem, made the problem worse, positioned our company as the resolution to the problem, and then described a happier life for our clients because their problem has been solved. 

Use your story to attract clients, talent, or investors. 

Step 05 - What is your theme and your “why”?

If you identified your clear mission statement in step 1, you should have your theme. 

Look at your mission statement, your theme or your why comes right after “because”. 

The theme of your mission statement is critical to your overall guiding principles. It communicates why the work you do matters. 

Here’s Creativeo’s why

Creativeo's Why
Brands that get their messaging and marketing right, grow by winning more customers.

And for another example, see Business Made Simple’s mission and why:

“To disrupt the education model with an easily accessible business curriculum allowing anybody to succeed at work because everybody deserves a life-changing business education. 

  • Why should great talent join your organization?
  • Why should investors invest in your company?
  • Why should your customers remark about you to their friends? 


The five components of the Business made simple guiding principles are:

  • 01 Create a mission statement that actually works 
  • 02 Create a set of key characteristics that will guide your development 
  • 03 Create a list of critical actions that will ensure you accomplish the mission 
  • 04 Create a story pitch that attracts resources to your mission
  • 05 Define a theme that will serve as your why if your mission

Great companies might have a good culture by chance and hard work. But world-class company’s have a world-class culture by purpose. 

It’s up to you as the leader to ensure your company has the guiding principles to unite your team. 

Once you’ve identified your guiding principles, here’s how to implement it across your organization

  • Have it part of your employee onboarding process. Where your team hires and fires people based on their fit and commitment to your guiding principles.
  • Review your guiding principles with your team at every weekly meeting.
  • Each week take one of your key characteristics and make it the theme for that week. This is where you take 5 minutes in your meetings and review one of your key characteristics.
  • Celebrate and recognize team members who embody your critical actions and key characteristics.
  • Include them on your company’s career page. 
  • Include your mission and why on your about us page. 
Business Made Simple Boook

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