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A Purpose Driven Culture

This is the last post about our trip to Silicon Valley. The first post was about the ‘customer first, without compromise’ approach. The second about the organizational design to make it happen. Today’s post is about the purpose driven culture.

Purpose-driven Culture

Clear & Inspiring Purpose

Most CEOs understand the power of purpose. A purpose is a “higher goal†for the organization. Starbucks says it best: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a timeâ€. Starbucks is not about selling coffee but about bringing people together. When you visit the company, this mentality is palpable in every corner of the building. Every employee breathes this mentality.

Yahoo doesn’t say: “We make apps and we make people happyâ€. Instead, Yahoo says: “We make the consumer’s daily routine easier and more enjoyableâ€. Evernote doesn’t say: “We make software so you can make notesâ€. Instead, Evernote says: “We make our customers more efficientâ€. At a product launch, none of these companies talk about the product itself. What they do talk about is their philosophy. A philosophy projects passion and enthusiasm. It ties the staff to the organization. Thanks to the philosophy, employees are glad to go the extra mile.

Everybody Lives the Purpose

A purpose is great but it is worthless when it is not carried by the staff. We felt this clearly during practically all of our visits. The people working for these companies are proud of what they do and they believe in their employer’s purpose. No one makes products in Silicon Valley, they are all changing the world. We were all affected by the drive, the passion and entrepreneurship these people exhibited. Purpose and passionate staff are motivating factors. Customers feel this and it incites them to buy. Yammer is the perfect example. The founder of Yammer, Adam Pisoni, gave us a fantastic presentation about the organization of the future. At no time did he mention his product. Instead, he shared his vision and his passion. The result was wonderful: nearly everyone was interested in buying the product. If he’d given a product demo, the outcome probably would have been less spectacular.

Details and Passion

The power of a company is in the passion and the details. Details make a crucial difference in the customer relationship. Every organization has major processes to keep their customers satisfied. However, these processes often ignore the little details and the interactions between the various contact moments. Customer satisfaction is made or broken by details.

Besides details, passion is the prime ingredient of success. Self-confidence, pride and passion are contagious. We visited companies big and small but they all shared the same pride and passion. In fact, we found that the more passionate they were, the more enthusiastic we felt about our visit.

Modern organizations are faced with huge challenges. The external clock ticks faster than the internal one. Consumers’ attitudes towards companies are becoming increasingly demanding. The world is evolving at breakneck speed. A modern company has no choice but to adapt to this evolution. Darwin said that “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to changeâ€. Today that Darwinism is being taken to extremes.

The way to adapt is: customer first without compromise! Build an organization that can deliver on that promise: a network organization driven by a strong sense of purpose.

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