There are many types of organisational statements and they all mean different things to different people. But which ones are worth having? Is there a hierarchy in their importance? And most importantly, do they matter?
Companies all over the world produce these statements without giving a great deal of thought to their meaning. They produce them because they think they should have them. It’s like authors who use quotes by famous people to get their point across. They like the words, they like the sentiment and by adding it to their work they think it validates what they are trying to say.
But it’s lazy. It’s really saying ‘I’ll put these words in, people will think that I’m smart and the words of someone else will support my words’. A bit like company owners that blindly create statements in the hope that it will present the reader with some kind of meaning or purpose that the author wants to attribute to their business.
But these statements mean EVERYTHING to the reader and you better live up to their meaning…or else.
Forest Mars, Sr. (yes, of the Mars Corporation) introduced it in 1947 in a memo, saying “the objective of our businesses is to create mutual benefit for all stakeholders.” And then they went ahead and made unhealthy products that their customer’s loved. The ‘benefit’ to which Mars referred is the enjoyment and satisfaction of his customers, he never considered their health.
This was the old principals of Taylorism where employees were grateful to have a job and employers put shareholders first. In many western businesses, it is a legal requirement for boards to put businesses first.
But this generation of business owners, entrepreneurs and thought leaders want more. They want PURPOSE to mean something. They will mend and make do instead of consuming more. They will consider sustainability ahead of profit. They want social integrity ahead of greed. They want the world to be a better place and top of their agenda is healthy people. They take these things seriously and so must you.
“We must accept the discomfort of the truth, as well as the discomfort of bringing to life a new way of doing business,” says Mars Corporation “Our kids are watching us. And we won’t be able to tell them we didn’t know.”
So choose your words carefully and mean every one of them. Your customers are your kid’s generation and you better not mess with them, they know what they want and they are uncompromising in what they do.