First, I am going to start with deepening your understanding about “intention” to really get across the importance of intention and leave you with a clear understanding of how it works.
Let’s start with an example of intention. Let’s say that a senior partner of a construction company had been saying that his intention was to increase business, but he kept getting more or less the same results. Why is this? This was because his real intention had been to protect his life from getting too big, too fast and, therefore, out of control. Without realizing it, this notion of keeping things small had him put bottlenecks in place to prevent new business from coming in. He kept business at just the size that he could operate it, without disrupting his life. All the while he did this unconsciously. Unknowingly, he stifled his own growth and success.
Here’s another example, what if your best friend said to you, “Hey, do you want to go skiing next month in whistler?” Let’s say you respond, “I REALLY want to—would LOVE to. Just can’t make the time, or have the money.” In this case, you really would like to go, but looking at your circumstances, it seems impossible. We have all been in that kind of situation—jammed to the teeth with no room for ANYTHING.
Then another call comes in from your brother. He says that he is getting married in London next weekend and wants you to be the best man. Your first response is to say that you will be there. Then you work at the “how.” Not going—never even crosses your mind. What this example clearly illustrates is: When it is absolutely our intention to make something happen, we do. We have seen this in ourselves, and we have seen this in others, time and time again.
So how do we harness this TRUE INTENTION to work in a company? That’s a powerful question. Intention is something you really want, and you really want to execute it—just like your brother’s wedding. Not doing it is not even an option. At this point you have to be wondering … “What’s the TRUE INTENTION of my company?”
As leading business architects for high performance companies, we spend a lot of time on THE MISSION. When I started to work with Lululemon, one of the first things we did was retire the original mission, which had to do with garments and create a new mission. That mission is “raising the world from mediocrity to greatness.” It is all about causing greatness in every aspect of the company and anything the company touches. For Lululemon, we had people experience the difference between mediocrity and greatness in clothes, in stores, in the staff and in the culture. Everything! The mission gives rise to the way everything is done.
I was working with a very successful restaurant chain, and in our planning sessions, we were architecting a plan for a big expansion in the East. After getting in to the details of this conversation, the executives realized that they had a massive policy-and-procedures manual that told people the process of “how to open and run a new store,” but that would not be enough. They needed a mission. Policies and procedures don’t leave people with experiences. Missions do! For this restaurant to be successful, every person in the company was aligned with doing whatever it took to leave the customer with an exceptional experience. With a clear intention, process becomes secondary, if at all necessary!
If we look at a sports team, the intention is to score a goal or win the game. All the team players align with that intention. If you’re conducting a surgery, the intention is to save that life. When intentions are clear and powerful, people just get on with it. And if they don’t, it’s because it’s not their true intention. With a clear intention, people at work don’t take things personally. Everyone wants to achieve the same thing. It is productive, refreshing and alive. What if your entire company was like that? What would get accomplished and with what efficiency? What if you were the customer of a company that when you connected with the company, every person wanted only for you to have the best possible outcome for yourself? What would be your relationship to doing business with them in the future? A clear “intention” answers all of these questions. So it’s not about the business plans or the procedures, it’s about finding the right match to the intentions and the mission of your company.
From our approach, the fundamental intention of the company is the mission. Before we get in to it, I want to qualify— there are many different ways of creating a mission, and I am not arguing for a right one. I’m just sharing how we do it. First and foremost in our approach (which is often counterintuitive for people), it is to create your mission in a whole new way. That mission has nothing to do with your product or service. We believe that a powerful mission is an intention and experience delivered to human beings and is independent of what you do.
We are all quite aware of the difference between Coke and Pepsi as brands. This is Pepsi’s mission:
“We have absolute clarity about what we do: ‘WE SELL HIGH QUALITY FOOD AND BEVERAGE PRODUCTS.’ Our success will ensure that customers will build their businesses, employees will build their futures, and shareholders will build their wealth.”
To refresh the world. To generate moments of optimism and happiness. To create value and make a difference.
I am not saying Pepsi is not successful. But there is no question about the difference in the brands and their performances. Pepsi’s mission describes the product and what serves the company. Coke’s mission describes the EXPERIENCE that their customers have and what serves others! So the question becomes, “What ‘experience’ do you want to leave your clients with?”
Disney is another good example: they have a couple of different key missions, and the relevant mission here is “to make people happy.” What makes it effective is that the company takes it seriously. Even the cleaners at the park are trained to drop what they are doing if they see a child crying and do whatever is necessary it make him or her happy. It takes time and effort to ensure the mission is not just a slogan. It takes architecture to design it into every facet of the business and to ensure it is delivered as an experience, with precision. Every decision in the company then is weighed against the mission. For example, when they hire a new employee, the most important part of the hiring process is: Can he/she “make people happy”?
Two of the most common rebuttals I receive to the above examples are: 1) those are not like our industry, and 2) it is too fluffy for us. It’s funny because if I talk to a manly CEO who thinks “the passion and love what you do stuff is too flighty,” I ask them who they think are great successes, and we will invariably come up with people like Steve Jobs. You will find that most, if not all, great business leaders clearly speak about being passionate and being of service. And they all had powerful missions.
So, let me give you one more example: a commercial HVAC engineering and supply firm worked with me to create a new mission. What the partners ended up with was “life is great!” Then we proceeded to go through every square inch of the company to ensure it delivers the mission—life is great”. We drilled down through the company and left no stone unturned. We looked at things like “Is the relationship between all of the partners successful, such that “life is great”?
Is the experience of the employees reflecting “life is great”? Is the physical space offering “life is great”? Is the selling process for the customers leaving them with the experience that “life is great”? Is their delivery for their customers reflecting “life is great”? Is the quality of the work such that “life is great”? Is the velocity of the work such that “life is great”? Is the compensation of the company leaving people with funds, showing that “life is great”?
As we took this mission on throughout their company, they experienced multiple levels of growth and improvement in quality, brand and reputation. This mission, “life is great”, gave their potential customers a clear reason to do business with them rather than someone else. It also clearly illustrated why the best people would want to work with them rather than somebody else. Consequently the company environment overall delivered—life is GREAT!
From our experience, companies often become solely focused on chasing the numbers while forgetting what produces them. So, why are we so hell bent on being busy chasing numbers? From my point of view, chasing the numbers is like looking up at the hole in golf and missing the ball. To perform, you have to look down and execute as well as possible and then—look up and see where it lands.
Get a white board or flip chart and throw up answers that come to mind to questions like:
If you could leave customers with anything, how would you love to leave them? If you could make any impact on people that come in contact with your company, what would you want that to be? What would leave you completely satisfied and fulfilled? How does someone need to be left—with what experience or impact?
Just throw up whatever comes to mind without editing. Take your time. See what lights you up. Begin to capture the themes and what is important to you. As you start to generate these answers, the mission will come to you. You will begin to see clearly the type of experience you want to leave with your clients, team, vendors, suppliers, investors and partners.
As you do this, don’t forget to send us your thoughts and your mission. We’ll be excited to hear how it goes. Here’s to your success!
We have been working with Anurag and the team at The Difference Engine since October, 2011. To say that we have shifted and grown is an understatement. We have had unprecedented results because we spend our days architecting an environment and culture that delivers on our mission. The OGM’s mission is to have readers and clients, team members and vendors left with the experience that they are the “S**T.” We are committed to having a breakthrough in the way publications are experienced by its readers such that they are left educated, informed, inspired, intrigued, enlightened and excited about the energy world we live in! The experience we want to leave you with is: “the s**t!
Ultimately this architecture has resulted in exponential growth and our company, doubling our team in the last few months and we have implemented offices around the globe to deliver on our mission. It’s non-conventional, it’s non-conformist and it works!
It is our intention that you have these tools and architecture for your success and therefore we make available this business series to you. We hope you find it the “S**t”! Stay tuned for part three of The OGM series on “implementing” the mission.
Oh, and as a side note, you can have a mission for your relationship, your family and your community … Missions work for everything, and they provide extraordinary results!
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