The easy and fun way to test whether a mission statement/purpose/motto is garbage is to negate it and see whether it still holds up. If a mission statement does not make sense for a company not to do, then why even bother stating the obvious?
Striving to be a leader in a field? Of course you are – you better not be trying to come in dead last…
Trying to connect people to passions or interests? Hell, why not disconnect them instead!
Don’t be evil? Have you tried being evil? Was it so bad?
Just do it? Have you considered the consequences?
To me, mission statements sound as disingenuous to me as the parenthetical phrase “to be honest.” The best possible response to a sentence that includes that phrase is “Please lie to me instead.”
Douglas Adams wrote frequently about the human penchant for continuously stating the very, very obvious. Mission statements take that principle to the extreme, to the point where we even believe that we’re going to persuade people about something or other by making an official public statement about what we are going to do that would be insane to negate.
In fact, I can’t think of a single catch-phrase that motivated individuals through an extended period of time, except for perhaps “Go forth and multiply,” but one could easily see that the instruction wasn’t really necessary, just the equipment and instinct.