At Geonetric, we use ours a little differently. For example, the mission statement is the very first slide of every monthly company meeting, because it’s just that important. I put it there to remind us every month why we are here, as a company, doing this – rather than something else.
Up until last week, Geonetric’s mission statement was:
To build an exceptional team of experts to do revolutionary work for our clients.
That may not sound very exciting to you, but we thought carefully about those words and the placement of those words. As you can read in the statement, we focus first on the idea of building an “exceptional team:” amazing, smart people that work well together. It is pretty common for new team members to be a bit dazed the first few weeks as they adjust to the idea that there are so many brilliant people under one roof. The people here care about where the company is going. They’re engaged. They want Geonetric to succeed. If the new hire just arrived from the typical corporate world, it’s a bit shocking, actually – and that’s the point. Building an exceptional team is hard, and it’s the most important reason we’re here.
Secondly, it highlights the need for “revolutionary work:” innovation, pushing the envelope, bringing things that matter to our clients. We expend enormous energy trying new things, building new products, constantly improving in large and small ways, researching the edges of what is possible in our industry. This year, we’ve been creating cross-disciplinary groups to do “Innovation Time” in which we are allocating blocks of time precisely to try new things. And that, too, is the point – we have no interest in doing mediocre work, so we have to keep changing and improving.
What our mission statement doesn’t say is also pretty notable. Our mission is not the cliché “to maximize shareholder value” for example. Geonetric is a very profitable business, but that’s not enough. These are smart people, remember? We could be profitable in any business. Besides, no one wants to work here to help me retire early. Heck, that’s not even why I work here. I’m much too interested in helping build all this amazing stuff too!
But in the past few months, as I’ve been doing some soul-searching, I found that our mission statement was missing some subtle nuance that I think needs to be called out clearly. The old statement seemed too internally-focused; it was about us, only, and not about our clients. It implies, but doesn’t explicitly say, that we want to make clients happy or that we want to deliver measurable results. After all, an exceptional team that does revolutionary work, but doesn’t make clients happy wouldn’t much meet the spirit of why we’re here. So we’ve modified it slightly, as follows:
- Build an exceptional team
- Do revolutionary work
- “Wow!” our clients
If you’ve followed Geonetric for a while, you know that using a goofy word like “Wow!” (yes, with an exclamation point!) is very much the sort of thing we’d do. The choice of that word captures three things: the idea that our clients are happy, that the work we do matters to them, and that we do things beyond what’s expected. Those three things are, very much, reasons why we’re here.
If this was just put on a plaque, or in a blog post, this wouldn’t really matter much. If it was just a cute slogan, it would be a waste of time for me to be writing this at all. Instead, by explicitly pointing it out in our mission statement – every month at our company meetings, and daily when we need to remember it – we’re making sure that everyone at Geonetric knows that we’re here. To Wow! our clients. And the bonus is that we Wow! each other along the way.