A Business Goal or a Moral One?

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

This week we are exploring the power of mission or purpose.  

Mission is one of the defining aspects of Google’s culture writes Laszlo Bock, Google’s long-time Chief People Operations Officer in his book Work Rules!

So, what’s missing from Google’s mission statement?

First, there is no mention of profit.  

There’s no mention of market or customers or shareholders or users.  

There’s no finish line.  If our mission is to be the market leader, what happen when this happens?  For Google, there will always be more information to organize.   

And, perhaps more interestingly of all: It is not a business goal.

It’s a moral one. 

Laszlo tells us the most powerful movements in history have been moral. 

Independence or equal rights, for example.

We all aspire to something that inspires us.  

The responsibility for us as leaders is to help craft such a goal.

Sounds intimidating.  

But perhaps it’s easier than it sounds.  One strategy is to analyze our clients.  Who do they serve?  Because the work we do likely enables or strengthens their ability to serve.

At PCI, we strengthen the ability of our nation’s universities, high schools, and service organizations to inspire dreams and transform lives.  Our work makes them stronger.  That’s our purpose.   

Taking it a step further, we can look for ways to connect our teams to the people who are the beneficiaries of our work.  Laszlo shares Adam Grant’s research on a university’s fundraising call center.  Their job was to call potential donors.  Adam divided the fundraisers into three groups:

Group A was the control group.  They did their jobs as they had been doing.

Group B read stories from other team members about the personal benefits of the job: learning and money. 

Group C read stories from scholarship recipients about how the scholarships had changed their lives.  

Groups A and B saw no change in their performance.  

Group C grew their weekly pledges by 155 percent and weekly fundraising by 143 percent.

That’s the power of purpose.  As leaders, cultivating organizational purpose is one of our most important responsibilities.

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Reflection:  What is my organization’s purpose?
Action:  Discuss with a colleague.

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