Jason Hoffer our New Frontiers/TST Director passed this Peter Drucker quote to me from some reading he’s been doing – Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. It perfectly applies to the discussion in my previous posts about the 6 Key Questions every organization needs to answer, and specifically the answers to the last four Key Questions – “why do we exist?”, “what makes us distinct?”, “what do we want to achieve in the long-term?” and “what do we want to become?” Drucker says…
“It is not easy for the management of a successful company to ask, what is our business? Everybody in the company then thinks that the answer is obvious as not to deserve discussion. It is never popular to argue with success, never popular to rock the boat. Sooner or later even the most successful answer to the question, ‘what is our business?’ becomes obsolete. Very few definitions of the purpose and mission of a business have anything like a life expectancy of thirty, let alone fifty years. To be good for ten years is probably all one can normally expect. In asking, what is our business? Management therefore also needs to add, and what will it be”
Notice Drucker’s language of both “doing” (i.e. Mission, BHAGG & Brand) as well as “being” (Vision). Drucker understood that the answer to the last four questions will change over time if an organization and its leaders stays attuned to the world around them.
And I wholeheartedly agree with Jason’s comment about the contemporary perspective of Drucker’s thoughts – “that was written in 1974 – I can imagine if he were to write that now those years would be dramatically fewer”43.928283-85.286682
Once an organization answers the first two of the 6 Key Questions – “what do we believe to be true?” and “what’s important to us?” it then needs to answer these questions –
Why do we exist?
What makes us distinct?
The answers to the first two questions, though absolutely critical, do not make an organization unique. But the answers to this second set of questions begin to highlight the essential distinctness an organization brings to the world.
Why do we exist? Mission
By answering this question an organization identifies its purpose for existence by focusing on the difference it’ll make in people’s lives and in the world. Mission is an action and outcome orientated statement and should be, in part, a response to the needs of the world in which the organization finds itself. For this reason, mission may change or adjust over time in response to the unique opportunities its context presents.
What makes us distinct? Brand (or philosophy of ministry for faith-based organizations)
Every organization has a brand (whether intentional or accidental) – it’s the attributes which make it distinct. An intentional brand requires thinking through the attributes of its products or services which are apparent to those who experience the organization, then making these attributes a reality in every part of the organization. The brand is the tangible expression of an organization’s mission, core values and statement of faith.
Answering these two questions is necessary for an organization to identify its unique calling and its distinctiveness in living it out.
In my next post we’ll look at the final two of the 6 Key Questions every organization needs to answer – “what do we want to achieve in the long-term?’ and “what do we want to become?”
To see SpringHill’s answers to the 6 Key Questions click here.43.928283-85.286682
“The whale that spouts first gets harpooned first” was one of the first things I learned in 1984 as I started in the management training program at Steelcase, Inc. A quote attributed to its then CEO and chairman, Bob Pew.
The message was clear – we shouldn’t talk about how good we are as a company. We just needed to demonstrate it through our superior products, service and value. The need to “spout” indicated more serious issues, issues that would eventually lead to being “harpooned”.
Being understated was a strong value of Steelcase’s and it permeated the entire company’s culture. It’s a value that continues to influence my career and as a result influences SpringHill.
It’s so integrated into my own values that I hadn’t thought much about the quote until one day, late in July, I drove by this sports bar in a small town near Marion, Indiana.
The sign on the side of the building read “Best Damn Sportsbar Period”.
The owners surely hadn’t gone through Steelcase’s management training program. Because if they had, they’d had known not to spend money spouting off on signs. But instead they would have invested that money and energy into the service and experience they provided their customers with the result being that they wouldn’t have needed that final sign I saw in the window.43.928283-85.286682