A quote from Stephen Covey: “Management is going up the ladder as efficiently as possible, leadership is making sure the ladder is up against the right wall.” A lot of businesses go to work on improving inefficiencies and strengthening processes but without first focusing on their purpose, or what wall their leaning up against. Once that purpose is defined its important to let everyone know, as clearly as possible, which wall it is. Usually this purpose can be distilled into one sentence without any lame business jargon. Zappos declares to have the best customer service in the world. Wal-mart is the least expensive. Starbucks makes the worlds best coffee. It is the stake in the ground, line in the sand and banner in the sky that unapologetically declares the business’s purpose that everyone can rally behind and cause a movement. Again to quote Covey, “No management success can compensate for failure in leadership.” Working on the packaging, the logo or your Facebook page is like organizing deck chairs on the Titanic unless the customer has bought into the vision of the organization. For whatever problem a business has I think a sense of purpose will help overcome the problem faster than focusing on the problem itself.
I’m reading Evil Plans by Hugh MacLeod and he has a great quote in it from Director David Mackenzie, where he says, “A film is only as good as the reasons for making it.” Hugh explains, “What is true in Hollywood is also true for products and businesses. It’s not what you make, it’s what you believe in. That is what people respond to. That is where the enterprise lives or dies.”