Why do you exist?

36608632 As you walk through the hallways of your company today…stop people at random.  Everyone from the CEO to the part-time mail room clerk and everyone in between. 

Ask them this:

Why does this company exist?

Note two things:

  1. How many different answers you get
  2. How many times you hear…to make money

A company that exists primarily to make money cannot hope to build loyalty among customers, employees or even vendors.  Of course, you should be profitable — but that shouldn’t be why you exist.

You make money so you can keep fulfilling the reason you exist.  Unless of course….everyone in your company thinks it’s something different.

Then, sadly…the only mission/vision you all agree on is…that you should make money.  Can you say "uh oh."

6 comments on “Why do you exist?

  1. Drew,

    A great reminder for everyone to really ponder why it is we do the things we do….Not just in business, but in life.

    Specific to business, I think you make a great point that everyone in an organization needs to have the same vision/mission. I recently read the book “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive” by Patrick Lencioni. The four things that an extraordinary executive does is:

    1) Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team
    2) Create Organizational Clarity – the “why it is we exist”
    3) Over Communicate the Organizational Clarity – this is how you ensure your employees know the true vision and mission….the “why it is we exist.”
    4) Reinforce Organzational Clarity through Human Systems

    I thought this book and your post went nicely together. I’m going to have to take you up on that challenge. It will be interesting to see how many “visions” are truly out there in my organization.

    Great post Drew!

  2. Lewis Green says:

    In fact, Jim Collins (Built to Last, Good to Great) recommends that when you create your values/guiding principles that money not be one of them. The key is that all business decisions should be filtered through those values/guiding principles. And when none of them are about money, the business decisions will be based on whether or not the decision is the right one to make to grow a business. Have a great Labor Day Weekend, Drew.

  3. Mark Olsen says:

    Great post and very good comments as well.

    Might I suggest you pose this as a Linked In Question….I’d be very interested in the responses from a wide variety of organizations.

    Mark

  4. Lewis,

    Jim is probably right. Being profitable enough to keep doing what you do is sort of a duh.

    So why not concentrate on why it matters that do you anything at all?

    You enjoy your weekend too!

    Drew

  5. Eric,

    Boy, that looks so simple and easy and yet, I think most business leaders struggle to even know what their organizational clarity is — let alone keep it the star of the show.

    Did the book talk about how to discover your own organizational clarity?

    Drew

  6. Mark,

    Great idea! Watch for it.

    Drew

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