I was listening to a presentation from the leader of a hospitality industry company the other day, watching as he recounted with pride all the millions they had invested over the past year to improve their product, the many changes they had made in response to customer feedback, the attention they put on providing an ever-high-quality consumer experience.
It was impressive. But it all fell flat for me when I matched up all that investment with the company’s culture and mission, and the daily employee experience.
I asked this smart, driven executive to describe his company’s culture and mission in two sentences. He couldn’t do it.
Instead, I got several rambling paragraphs about how their mission is to make the customer’s life stress-free and enjoyable. And when I talked to employees, they had no idea what they were supposed to do other than follow orders, be nice to guests and try to boost the company’s net promoter score above where it was the previous year.
So here we have a company that is highly motivated to please its customers and is willing to invest millions of dollars each year in new facilities and programs to do just that. They are firing lots of arrows, but they have no clear target and no clear method for getting the arrows on target. They are just hosing down the general area of the target with as many arrows as they can afford.
This is more than an academic exercise. A recent study by Deloitte consultants confirmed once again that businesses with a clear purpose, especially one that is grander than just getting a better NPS score, have better financial results.
You can’t reach your destination if you don’t know where you are going and how you are getting there. Corporate mission is the destination and corporate culture is the means for getting there.
And one of the really great things about crafting and living a well-defined corporate mission and culture is that is costs very little. All it takes is a company-wide willingness to be honestly introspective, open and innovative in figuring out what you are about, what you want to be about and how you are going to involve all of your colleagues and employees in doing that.
(For some great profiles of companies that have done just this, check out “Small Giants” by Bo Burlingham.)