One last thought spawned by "Perfect Enough"
I have a big problem with what I term "Barf Statements". These are the politically correct, completely useless phrases that hordes of high-paid executives agonize over in massive word-smithing exercises (usually conducted in wonderful resort settings).
Here's an example, tell me what makes this special and different? Identify the company these come from?:
- Dedication to every client's success
- Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
- Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships
(IBM by the way, couldn't you tell)
Here's an even better one. Identify the company:
We will be a world-class leader in every aspect of our business and in developing our team leadership skills at every level; in our management performance; in the way we design, build and support our products; and in our financial results.
We will always take the high road by practicing the highest ethical standards, and by honoring our commitments. We will take personal responsibility for our actions, and treat everyone fairly and with trust and respect.
We will strive for continuous quality improvement in all that we do, so that we will rank among the world's premier industrial firms in customer, employee and community satisfaction.
Satisfied customers are essential to our success. We will achieve total customer satisfaction by understanding what the customer wants and delivering it flawlessly.
People Working Together
We recognize our strength and our competitive advantage is -- and always will be -- people. We will continually learn, and share ideas and knowledge. We will encourage cooperative efforts at every level and across all activities in our company.
A Diverse and Involved Team
We value the skills, strengths, and perspectives of our diverse team. We will foster a participatory workplace that enables people to get involved in making decisions about their work that advance our common business objectives.
Good Corporate Citizenship
We will provide a safe workplace and protect the environment. We will promote the health and well-being of ONLY PLACE THE COMPANY NAME IS USED people and their families. We will work with our communities by volunteering and financially supporting education and other worthy causes.
Enhancing Shareholder Value
Our business must produce a profit, and we must generate superior returns on the assets entrusted to us by our shareholders. We will ensure our success by satisfying our customers and increasing shareholder value.
(That's from Boeing...can't you see how that would inspire you to Build the Best Damn Airplanes in the World!)
In "Perfect Enough" there is an example where an ad agency came up with some principles distilled from "The HP Way" to communicate to the company. One that I liked because it was clear, simple, and very illustrative was "Perform more than you promised...if the person at the next bench sees what you are working on and doesn't say 'WOW!' start over". It's so simple and easy to understand, anyone can figure out if that principle is being upheld.
But, HP's management didn't like it....they came up with "The customer defines a job well done" YUCK!
And one I REALLY like, "Invent different ways of working" (OK...boss, I'll be in the Bahamas thinking about work while I go diving and fishing...that's my new way of working).
People are so afraid of saying the "right thing" that they mostly say nothing. Say something that motivates those you want working for you...if it doesn't appeal to everyone, so what!
Good article on the topic at CIO.com
And one of my favorite management tools on the web Dilbert Mission Statement Generator