Archives for posts with tag: mission


Why would they care about your vision? It’s not unique enough and filled with corporate speak.

Why would they care about your mission? It’s not aligned with the real product/service experience.

Why would they care about your point of view? You have none.

Why would they care about your company? You don’t care about the stakeholders, you just focus on the shareholders.

When there’s nothing else to care about, people will only care about the price.


Imagine a blank sheet of paper – it represents all that you are. Now, imagine a tiny dot in the middle of the paper. That represents your problems. Most of us walk around life staring at that little dot, and never see whole sheet of paper the dot is on.

We often must step back so we can look at the situation we are presented with. It can be a hard thing to do, and sometimes it may take awhile to approach something from a different perspective, especially when something is particularly hurtful or hard to accept.

In your daily life, it’s much more valuable to focus on solutions than problems.

The opposite is true in marketing.

Focusing on solutions often leads us down the wrong path. The bright-shiny-objects path. The data-obsession path. The technology-will-save-the-world path. Or the comfort-zone path. While we walk down that chosen path, we tend to forget what problem we tried to solve in the first place. We fall in love with solutions. And divorce from the real problem.

We need to stay married to the problem. It’s the reason we’re around. It’s the reason people love some forms of marketing. Because we didn’t offer them a glitzy solution. We solved their problem.


In the good old days, employee communication was one task of the Human Resources department. Unfortunately, most companies still live in the good old days while the demands of the workforce have changed for good.

People want to gather around shared values and create meaningful experiences. Especially at work. They are no longer satisfied being on the receiving end of corporate decisions. They want to be heard before decisions are being made. It’s not enough to carve out one day a year to support Habitat for Humanity. And have problems getting out of bed the remaining 364 days because your employer doesn’t have a corporate vision or mission that gets you going in the morning.

You’ll be amazed how little people know about the corporate vision and mission of their employer. They don’t know why the company was founded, what the company stands for. And bolt at the first chance working for a company that incorporates their internal belief system into everything they do.

People want more than money. A good salary might get them in but it won’t keep them around.

Developing a comprehensive work experience that keeps people engaged, allow them to gather around a bigger cause and share this experience with their networks should be a no-brainer for any company. It decreases turnover and recruiting costs, leads to better performances (individuals and company) and, ultimately, attracts more clients.

And, that’s why HR and Marketing should talk. Marketing focuses on communicating, using the right channels to engage with people, creating memorable experiences. HR should tap into these skills and jointly develop a communication plan, answering these questions:

  • Who owns your brand?
  • What is your employer brand?
  • How do your employees perceive your brand when they get hired? And leave? What happens during the employment experience?
  • Do former employees recommend your brand and ask prospects to stay away?
  • What is the recruitment experience?
  • On-boarding process: How does it communicate the values of your company?
  • Does employee engagement fade over time? Does it increase?
  • Is career development tied to the bigger picture of your brand?
  • Does everybody understand what they need to deliver?
  • What’s the departure experience?
  • Is communication there to get information? Or is information there to get communication?
  • What is being measured? And what should be measured?
  • Are you focused on internal communication? Or employee communication?

Like it or not, everything we do is marketing. Every communication says something about your company. There’s a reason why companies spend a lot of time and resources on finding/developing the right fonts, logo, website, building, office furniture and Christmas presents. And leave the internal branding to a few tasks on the HR Director’s to-do list. Don’t get me wrong: external branding remains important. But it feels soulless and empty without any internal branding. Allowing the enterprise to evolve its brand organically.

That’s why HR and Marketing should talk.


Just read an interesting post by Don Dodge where he makes the analogy that startups play poker, big companies play chess. He continues:

Using a game analogy, startups are more like poker players. They take big risks, they bluff, they make quick decisions, change direction constantly, and they keep their competitors off balance. In poker you never have all the information, but you must make fast decisions. You never know if what you are seeing is a real threat, a bluff, or something that will soon disappear under the stress of the game.

Poker is an aggressive game where if you play your cards right you win big, and win fast, or totally wipe out in just a few hands. However, if you lose a hand on a reasonable bet,  you can come back and double your money in the next hand. There is no time to wallow over a loss. You did your best. Move on and your luck will be better next time. Chess is a very different game. Both require incredible skill and talent.

Big companies think long term. Like chess players, big companies think four or five moves (years) ahead. They protect their assets, play defensively, think strategically, and carefully consider the options before making a move. Big companies have a lot to lose, while small companies don’t. No offense to Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, but big companies like Microsoft don’t go “all in”, risk everything, and bet the company on one thing. Big companies can lose a “pawn” or even a Rook in a strategy move, but they wont risk the King.

Big companies leverage their assets (conservatively) and flex their muscles where they can. They go for incremental improvements in position. Big company CEOs, like chess players, work a long term strategy. Each short term move plays a part in a longer term strategy that is not visible to the casual observer. In fact, their strategy is often kept secret, and they take care to make sure their short term moves don’t reveal their long term plan. Strategy is a competitive advantage.”

Instead of playing chess or poker, successful companies in the 21st century have to be more like MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games). It’s not enough to be skilled at chess or poker anymore, the complexity of systems, connections and networks in the 21st century requires different skills:

  • 21st century companies will have an authentic mission that is transparent and believable.
  • As a subset of a general mission, 21st century company will set out on various quests and missions.
  • 21st century companies can’t focus on shareholder value alone. They need the community of all their stakeholders to succeed in their quests and missions.
  • A culture of collaboration and co-creation between all stakeholders is required to succeed in the 21st century.
  • 21st century companies will use game mechanics to reward their stakeholders by deploying various ranking and recognition systems. This proves to be a much better motivator than any bonus or salary increase.
  • Incentive systems that allow to divide the winnings from a “quest” improves the connection between effort and reward.
  • Hyper-transparent information with data-rich dashboards will be basic requirements for successful companies in the future.

Most importantly, you have to create “thick value”, defined by Umair Haque:

“(…) awesome stuff that makes people meaningfully better off.”

The creating of thick value will be the core of each successful company in the 21st century. Most of the bullet points are natural extensions and will develop organically if your mission is authentic and taps into the idea of thick value.

Poker and Chess were about beating the competitor at any cost, often just creating thin value. MMOGs are about co-creation and collaboration, delivering value throughout the stakeholder supply chain.


Image: Courtesy of Minddesign

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

Every enterprise needs to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These Big Hairy Audacious Goals are your limit. It’s an idealized goal that might never be attained, it’s your Moon Landing. We will talk later how to reduce the gap between enterprise reality and pie in the sky ideal. But, forget about limits for a while. This is about expansive thinking: no borders, no limits, no boxes.

Planning for Pie in the Sky includes:

  • A clear vision of your enterprise
  • A mission statement, expressing the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
  • Specific features the enterprise needs to have to achieve the goals
  • A pie in the sky design of the organization

A clear vision of the enterprise

Corporate visions are usually developed by executives, not involving all stakeholders. While developing the vision by few might be more efficient, the vision needs to be shared by all stakeholders in order to be pursued effectively. Most visions define what executives want the enterprise to be in 10 years or so, often forgetting what these executives want the enterprise to be right now. I would argue, it’s imperative to develop a vision that communicates the ideal design of the organization for the here and now, assuming the organizational design will be able to handle changes (and there will be many) without actually forecasting the future. Instead, organizational designs have to incorporate contingency planning.

I have all the plastic in the world but I still carry a few bills with me all the time. I don’t forecast a cyberattack on the banking system, I don’t forecast a massive quake in LA that won’t allow me to access my account for weeks. But all these things and other scenarios are possible. And I would like to be prepared for it.

A Mission Statement, expressing the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

Most mission statements are borefests: platitudes of epic proportions. A real mission statement should answer the following questions:

  • Why does this enterprise exist?
  • What are the aspirations of the enterprise?
  • What does the enterprise do to succeed?
  • How will the enterprise pursue its Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals?
  • How will the enterprise serve each stakeholder?
  • What makes the enterprise unique?

While formulating the mission statement, stay away from empty sentences/words, corporate speak and anything your best friend outside of your expertise doesn’t understand.

Specific features the enterprise needs to have to achieve the goals

Whenever we develop a website, the first step is to sit down with all stakeholders to go through their wishlist: What features does each stake holder would like to have? Enterprises have to go through this exercise as well to design their ideal organization.

This can be a laundry list of thousands of items or just a minimal document that describes the structure of the enterprise, corporate culture, management style, employee expectations, high-level ideals of products/services, etc. Each ideal enterprise design is different and the features list will reflect its uniqueness.

A pie in the sky design of the organization

Imagine, your enterprise stopped to exist last night. Nothing else has changed: Technology, laws, regulations, taxes, etc. The environment and systems that surrounded the old enterprise still exist and they haven’t changed. Just your enterprise is extinct. Start designing your new enterprise.

What kind of enterprise would you design if you could start from scratch? How would you design it so the enterprise is capable of being improved continuously from within? We’re not asking you to create Utopia, a perfect enterprise. Instead, your pie in the sky design should incorporate what you want to the organization to be right now. While you discuss these ideas with stakeholders, many new ideas will evolve and creativity will flow freely. This process of collaboration is often the most important product of this step to transform your business. Enterprises need to make sure that during this step self-imposed constraints are kept to a minimum. Stakeholders should not be concerned with feasibility, budgets or implementability. Reminding them that the enterprise was destroyed last night might help limiting those constraints. Keep dreaming.

Next, we will discuss gap analysis and gap planning.

For your reference, the first parts can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.