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  Special Feature

Mission-Driven Business

Posted 09/1/2012

By Dick Cross

A mission statement conveys excitement!

If you’ve never felt the tingle of being in one, you’d be astounded. I’m talking about businesses that vibrate. With enthusiasm. Positive impatience. Bright eyes, tight pupils and wide smiles. Walking fast with hands in a flurry. It’s disorienting to a visitor. Not knowing how to get into the flow. Because you stick out so much. And because it looks so absorbingly inviting.

What makes some companies that way? And why isn’t yours? First question, what makes some that way? Those companies are striving together to get something done that everyone feels is important. That will make a big difference for others. That they’ll be proud to tell their kids and friends they helped to build. And where they see, even though likely a bold journey, a path ahead that just might get it done!

Everyone’s got the bug in those companies. Starting with the CEO and working down to the newest laborer. With the infection spilling over to customers, suppliers and the families of the people who work there.

Second question, why not your business? It could be. Because the only thing standing in the way … is you! One of my favorite quotes is from Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian thinker: A man is but the product of his thoughts … what he thinks, he becomes.

And Cross’s corollary: A business is but the product of the CEO’s thoughts … what she thinks, it becomes. Many years ago, when I asked one of my favorite mentors about his most valuable contributions as a CEO, he said it this way. He described those moments, after he’d spent quiet time studying some aspect of his business, when an idea would come to him. About what his company just might be able to become.

It was always a long shot. But one that began looking more like a possibility as he continued to think. Which he continued to refine, and eventually distilled down to a stirring proclamation of outrageous Mission.

By the third quarter of 20__, we shall become _______________!

Then, like tossing a smooth stone into a still pond, he began talking about his outrageous Mission with his closest colleagues. Once they reached their own points of guarded confidence, he asked them to do the same with their own circles. And so on.

After a number of weeks when everyone had been touched, something magical would happen. The culture would start to vibrate. And he would know then that his Mission would be won.

How do you trigger the harmonics in your own company?

First you have to think, deeply, about what your company just might be able to become. Pick a timeframe that’s far enough out so that something heroic might occur. But close enough in to have an edge. My favorites fall in the 6- to 15-month range.

Then isolate yourself from all distractions. Alone for 20 minutes at least three times a week. Then build to one-hour sessions. Thinking exclusively about what your company might become. Shed the immediate restraints. And feel confident that when your idea is good enough it will find ways to take care of everything that stands in the way.

When your idea emerges, capture it in your own draft statement of Mission. By ______, we shall become _______________!

Then continue working on it. Simmer it in your mind, examining and refining every word. In your three sessions a week. And to and from work. Until you become obsessed as the inaugural believer. That it just might be possible. Your test is when your idea “walks the knife edge between what’s truly absurd, and what just might be possible.” And when you can’t shake the thoughts of making it happen.

Then start discussing it with your closest allies. Over several conversations. Receiving their reactions and adjusting the idea as appropriate. Then ask them to do the same with their teams. And so on until everyone in your business is touched. Review the reactions.

Then, start talking about your Mission incessantly. Weave it into every communication. Applaud those who’ve made contributions toward achievement. And encourage those who haven’t.

And for you? You’ll find new depth, fascination and love for your job at the top. Because you’ll be doing it well. And achieving your Mission.

Dick Cross is the author of “Just Run It,” an Amazon best-seller. He is founder and managing principal of The Cross Part­nership Ltd., and is a consultant and speaker. He may be reached at Follow Dick Cross on Twitter – @DickCross.




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