As I drive through the city it strikes me how many businesses there are. There are buildings after buildings, each housing one or more businesses of every kind—health centers, nail shops, accounting firms, legal offices, and on and on. The landscape is full of buildings offering every kind of product and service. So much so, I try to tune it out. To think about something meaningful when I drive.
What if, instead of seeing buildings, I saw missions. What is a mission? The reason your company is in business. Some call it your “why”. It would be so uplifting if I saw the human side of business—“we are here to serve, heal, help, etc.”
While it may not be possible to have your mission on your building (wouldn’t that be cool though), how do you become known as the business that (fill in the blank) instead of merely a bank, a health center, or a manufacturer? The latter are everywhere, the former, your company’s mission, is unique.
Knowing why your company is in business isn’t just for those driving by, it is for all stakeholders, with associates at the top of the list. Why does it matter if you show up for work or do a good job? If you are manufacturing critical parts for jets maybe the reason for no-fail quality standards is obvious. But in so many businesses, associates only see a small sliver of the “why”. Helping them realize the difference they make can encourage an entirely different perspective on work. Perhaps we should stop calling it work and start calling it value. Every associate should know when they walk in the door what value they add. Why they count. So the business can achieve its mission.
It matters to customers. It helps them choose which firm is the best fit for their needs and values and where they can get the best outcome. Not all customers have the same priority. It is almost impossible to be the lowest cost and highest quality—so your why helps customers distinguish which company best matches their priority. Am I going to buy bath towels at Walmart, Bed, Bath and Beyond or Frontgate (cited “Best bath towel overall” by Forbes)?
It enables consistency of decisions if everyone recognizes the why behind the operations. It guides marketing messages. It influences community involvement. It can make us motivated to start each day and do more and better than yesterday.
Can you clearly articulate the “why” at your company? Is it rewarding? Is it motivating? Is it inspirational to others? If not, let’s talk.