Laying bricks or building Cathedrals

LEGACY: How do you want to be remembered?

I was recently at a Human Resources congress where the panelists had 18 minutes to talk about a topic related to people management inside the companies they worked. The speakers sought to mobilize and inspire the audience by sharing their stories and those of their work teams. All talks had two factors in common:  purpose and culture. That was not common 10 years ago, companies were more focused on consumers than on employee, they could identify with the brand and be true protagonists of a change.

Culture: What are we made of? Do our people define who we are or are companies who truly shape people? It is certainly a bit of both. Culture is the way, “what happens in the company when the bosses are not looking”, and what is rewarded and punished within an organization. 

Just as all profiles can play in a rugby team: tall, short, fat and skinny… what is never negotiated between the team is the effort and commitment in training. 

Companies today undoubtedly have within their diversity a competitive advantage to provide the products or services they have. 

However, companies that encourage the participation of their people in culture have the advantage of increasing the commitment of their employees. 

Nothing better than a person who does not care about going to work or not, who finds meaning in what he does and, not only that but also feels part of something great. 

Culture is the way; it is built with the DNA that each work team contributes within the company. 

“Some put bricks, others build cathedrals.”

Purpose: They say that for a few years Microsoft has had a day in which all employees are asked to write on a sheet “where is the company going.”

On the other side of the page, I would ask them to repeat the question “why are we here? ”

In such a changing world, where services and products seek to retain an increasingly demanding customer, it is essential that we do not think that we have captive customers and that we do not seek the goals in the market, but rather to comply with the organization’s “reason for being.” 

I remember a class at IE Business School a few years ago, an innovation professor told us “everything that can be uberized will be uberized” and he was so right. 

The search for a purpose helps us focus on what is important so that we do what we do, it does not matter to us who we reach with our products or services, we have the possibility of influencing beyond what we believe. 

This is the case of Nestlé, whose purpose for more than 150 years has been “to improve the quality of life by contributing to a healthier future.” 

When people identify with the purpose, they cooperate from their “being”, they put their own values at stake and align their actions with the objectives of the company. 

Clearly, the numerical goals and market shares, although they still exist, of course, remain in the background: they seek to achieve them, but their achievement is not the engine. 

The commitment of this identification works as a bridge between the purpose and the culture, it provides feedback, it strengthens it. 

Culture, perceived in the visible actions and behavior of people in the organization, carries in its essence that purpose embodied in the employees.

Happy people, people with a reason to be and do, contribute to generating happy customers, happy companies, successful companies.

This paradigm shift, the “change of focus” from the consumer to the employee is key, it does not deny the importance of the client but rather positions us as actors at a much more neuralgic level of the organization, and from working with our people, promoting the sustainable fulfillment of the organization’s goals. 

It will be for this reason that more and more panelists, more experts in organizational development and above all more entrepreneurs, will speak of purpose and culture rather than mission and vision.