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Missed Mission Watch out! If your mission statement is a joke, Enron may be the punchline.

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The last few months have been a wild ride as some of the nation's largest businesses have come apart at the seams. The largest of these, of course, is Enron, whose mission statement noted that the company prided itself on four key values: respect, integrity, communication and excellence. Among other things, all business dealings at Enron were supposed to be "open and fair." As Enron's story unfolds in Congress, it's obvious the former seventh-largest U.S. company wasn't living its own mission statement. Now the question is: Are you living yours?

"I suspect the majority of mission statements don't reflect reality, and I think it's apparent to employees," says Lin Grensing-Pophal, a Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, consultant and the author of HR Essentials: Your Guide to Starting and Running the HR Function.

Mission statements are often seen as creative-writing exercises, Grensing-Pophal says, and management forgets about them once the ink is dry. It's no wonder they've become a joke to employees. You can find a humorous "mission statement generator" at Dilbert. com, and Enron's mission statement is a collector's item on eBay.

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