Whether you're Captain Kirk manning the Starship Enterprise or a small business owner trying to create a living, your mission is important. Find out why mission matters and why even the smallest business needs a clear mission and directive:
I have been a fan of all things Star Trek since the series began so many years ago. I can remember sitting on the floor in my living room, in front of our very small color tv intently waiting to see what Captain Kirk, Spock, and the crew would have to deal with in the week’s episode. I believe that I have seen every movie made as well as every new series or spin-off and I will also let you know that I think that some were great and some could certainly have been better. However, no matter how good or bad it has been I have remained a fan.
I believe that the appeal of the series has been the devout dedication to doing what is right, no matter what and the clear humanity of the crew, no matter what race they were or what planet they came from.
The reason I mention this is that the Starship Enterprise had a very clear mission. A mission: "To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!” In addition, they had a prime directive that "prohibits Starfleet personnel and spacecraft from interfering in the normal development of any society, and mandates that any Starfleet vessel or crew member is expendable to prevent violation of this rule.”
I find it interesting that the prime directive has been subverted more than once over the years when Kirk, Spock, or sometimes key crew believed that what they were doing was in the best interest of the crew and the society that they were interacting with. Which would clearly iterate a point that I believe is important in a healthy company, “What you do is more important than what you say.” Further, I would postulate that the more important mission of the Enterprise and its crew was to do what is right and protect the greater good and the team, even if the consequences would be dire, specifically because of what they have done over the years.
Captain Kirk sometimes said one thing, Spock clearly reminded him of the prime directive more than once, then Kirk did what he thought was in the interest of the greater good and his crew no matter what. To this day, I do not believe that Kirk, Spock, or the key crew members have altered from this true directive.
Kirk, Spock, and the key members of the crew have also been fiercely loyal to Starfleet and humanity throughout the series, spin-offs, and remakes.
I think that small business people often feel that their business is too small to have a mission or prime directive. After all, aren’t they just there to fix cars? Sell something? Feed people? Provide service? And hopefully at the end of the day have enough money left in their pockets to provide a good life for themselves, their employees, and their families?
I believe that mission matters because I have seen it make an amazing difference in businesses time and time again. Where customers love the product, owners and employees get paid well above industry standard, and the team enjoys the satisfaction of hitting their goals and winning the game. I have also seen companies with no clear mission or directive flounder and die more than once effecting the ability of others in our business to earn a real living.
In my own experience I was privileged to lead a team that wanted to be the best automotive service and repair business in the industry. Our goal was to be the best and our directive was to provide top notch customer service to our clients to accomplish that mission.
This shop produced $2.6M in quality work annually with 4 technicians, 2 service advisors, a manager, a parts person, a driver and clean up person, and an administrator. We were able to create and maintain a very productive and lucrative business where the staff made good decisions (because they understood the mission and directive of the company), got paid well above industry standard, and enjoyed safety, security, and the joy of doing a good job and being recognized and rewarded for it. We also achieved national recognition as one of Motor Age’s top 10 shops in the industry, for 3 years in a row.
Since then, I have been blessed to help many businesses create amazing results. Business after business that are earning 20% net profit or more, enjoying great customer satisfaction, and employees that are paid well and happy knowing that they have made a difference.
I believe that many business owners do not believe that they have what it takes to be outstanding, create an amazing team and therefore, they stall and stumble when it comes to mission, directive, and results. I believe that almost anyone can learn how to create great teams that achieve amazing results. You do not have to be the smartest person in the room. You do not have to have all the answers. You do not have to work 60+ hours a week. But, you do have to have a clear mission and act in accordance with that mission, and you have to find, lead, and inspire your team to achieve that mission.
Those that have I have worked with and done well, have a clear mission and directive. They know what they want their business to be. Everyone on the team understands what it is because they are a part of it and because those that lead the team not only talk about it regularly, but live it every day.
Do you and your staff truly understand your mission? Do you have a prime directive? Or, are you there just to hope that you have enough profit each day to survive to the next day?
If you want to do amazing things in your business begin with mission. Then, find and define a directive that supports that mission, and then live in line with that mission. A business that has a clear mission and directive will attract better people and always outperform a business with no clear mission or vision.
What do you want to be?
CEO/Founder of The Institute