Why Your Mission Matters

by Rob Waldeck | June 18, 2014

Old friend Mike Troiano moderated a panel at the Bostinno State of Innovation conference last week with entrepreneurs who have built $1billion companies in Massachusetts. Participants included Barbara Messing, CMO of TripAdvisor, Brad Rinklin, CMO at Akamai, Colin Angle, CEO at iRobot, Steve Conine, co-founder of Wayfair, and Jit Saxeena, Chairman of Neteeza. He asked them to rank the impact of 6 factors in the success of their businesses: Size of Market, Quality of Team, Quality of Product, Insight of Strategy, Quality of Execution and Luck. The details can be found here. Among that crew the consensus Number 1 driver in achieving $billion-scale was the Quality of Team. “If you get [the team] right, they’ll figure out all the rest,” said Jit Saxeena, Founder of Applix/Neteeza.

But of course building a great team is easier said than done. To attract the best and brightest a company needs to offer employees more than just an opportunity to work on what promises to be newer, faster, better – because that’s what the competition is promising too. The best and brightest aren’t just looking for a job – they want to be part of something meaningful, to create an impact, to change the world in a positive way. Attracting a quality team requires a motivating context for the “newer, faster, better”; a mission that articulates your company’s core beliefs – beliefs that you and your employees can share and embrace together.

So I thought I’d take a quick look at Troiano’s $1b club and see how well they’ve articulated their missions. Is it possible that they’ve built great companies and great teams based only on “newer, faster, better”? Or have these leaders found a way to communicate something more meaningful, providing, at a minimum, some anecdotal proof that at least one component of these $1billion success stories is a brand that stands for something more?

With the liberty of a little editing, here’s what I found:

iRobot designs and builds robots that make a difference.

TripAdvisor . . . enables travelers to plan and have the perfect trip.

Wayfair offers a zillion things home. . . and helps people find the perfect product at the right price.

Akamai . . . removes the complexities of technology so you can focus on driving your business faster forward.

“Robots that make a difference” . . . “a perfect trip” . . . “the perfect home product” . . . “driving your business faster forward” . . .

Pretty good I think. These are missions that best selling author Dan Heath might say, “are worth getting out of bed for.”

So whether you are pushing towards that billion dollar club or still have fewer zeros on your balance sheet, take the time and make the effort to write your mission. It’s a core piece of the brand building work we do at Holland-Mark and sets the stage for building a great company and attracting a quality team. And for you DIY’ers, Heath has a great video he calls, “How to Write a Mission Statement That Doesn’t Suck.