In my last post on the 10 Questions Prudent Firms Ask Themselves, I addressed Question 2 What are our goals? I outlined a continuum of 3 types of organizations and how a firm’s worldview shapes whom it serves, why, and how. Does the firm serve Shareholders, a broader set of Stakeholders, or a Higher Purpose? From that post:
For firms with a “Shareholder” worldview, the long-term objective is to maximize profit and satisfy the shareholder’s need for value creation. A “Stakeholder” worldview attempts to “balance” the multiple demands of employees, clients, communities, and regulators to maintain the “permission to operate.” Finally, Purpose-driven firms focus on driving the optimal balance of profit and organizational performance in order to maximize a defined good, impact, or outcome.
The driving precept for Shareholders is maximal profit, for Stakeholders it’s protecting permission to operate, and for Purpose-driven firms, it’s maximum “impact” of the mission.
Your position on the continuum is the starting place for Question Three, which asks, “What do our goals say about us?”
Do our goals reflect:
- Our real core values
- A flavor-of-the-day management fad
- The legacy we hope to leave behind as stewards of the firm
- Conventional short-term business thinking (i.e hit your number)
- Selflessness and teamwork
- Selfishness and an “It’s-just-business” or “Survival-of-the-fittest” mindset?
- A higher purpose
A firm’s goals should reflect who we are as a firm and the impact we desire to have on the lives we touch—yes, touch—including clients, employees, the community, and our families.
Do your goals achieve that objective or do they just pay lip service while manifesting indifference to those the firm impacts?
As business people, we know wholeheartedly that we get the behaviors we reward. Our goals set the bar for the behaviors that deliver the results we desire. As a result, our firms and our lives are shaped by what we live for.
Make sure your goals truly reflect what you are living for.
Founder & CEO
Jeff’s teams and strategies have helped the world’s top professional services firms achieve industry-leading growth rates, optimize marketing investment and maximize brand value. He was the SVP of Marketing at Genworth Financial, the Global Marketing Leader at Hewitt Associates, and held senior roles at Towers Perrin and Andersen.
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