(Mission Critical is an annoying business term and is just one of the 212 Most Annoying Business Phrases Managers Effuse, Confuse, and Overuse detailed in the hilarious must-have guide for every workplace: The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room. Available right now on Amazon.)
The problem with this saying – and why it’s so annoying – is that almost nothing is genuinely mission critical in your business.
Mission critical implies the mission will fail if the mission critical element is missing or damaged.
First, you likely have no missions in your business. You have strategies, directions, goals, opportunities, and rollouts; none of these are missions and relatively few of the inputs you seek to achieve these are critical. (There’s a difference between important and critical… learn it.)
Many of these inputs might be important, but if there is a workaround or the project can go on without perfecting one of these, then none of these are critical.
Mission critical is from the family of annoying phrases that originates from military terminology. At SpaceX, NASA, or in the US Marine Corps, many things are genuinely mission critical. Do these perfectly, or people will die.
For most everyone reading this book, nothing in your business is mission critical. Of course, this doesn’t stop the self-important in your leadership ranks from dubbing everything mission critical. Unfortunately, for those reporting to these managers and executives, when everything is mission critical, then nothing is.
Replacement phrases: Important
See also: Where the Rubber Meets the Road
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon