Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The importance of developing a mission

I manage to find some time during these Christmas holidays and was looking around Borders for some interesting readings. Mostly I was looking for some inspiration on innovation issues but also on growing a small but ambitious company. I couldn’t find much on the entrepreneurship section (even if there were more than 100 books there) and look more on general management. At the end I bought a couple of books and started reading “mavericks at work”. The first 2 chapters touched on a subject that it is banging on my head constantly which I mentioned on my previous posting “developing a strong culture and motivating our employees (specially our developers’ team)”.
Why is this so important now? One is that I felt (and I believe most of the management team does) that we are a very united management team but that the feeling of belonging is not really there beneath us. Having had renewed all our employees in the last 12 months (except 2 of them) we have a unique opportunity not only to learn from our mistakes but also to apply new learnings, managing to expand this feeling of team, belonging, community to all employees
Coming back to “Mavericks at work” it touches this subject from the point of view of a mission (please note that already another book that I read recently “build to last” stays this idea that what sets apart great companies from good companies is this sense of mission). Innovative and disruptive companies have an utter mission beyond making money that makes every one of their employees to value very highly working on those companies beyond the standard salary, role or position
I don’t feel we have invested much time (meaning we have had no time) on developing this mission at mmC. We have focused on differentiating our mmPLAY product, in fact I think that we could say that mmPLAY has a vision ( ‘helping service providers selling a service, an experience out of digital media not technology and expanding this experience to a community of users’) but we need to give ourselves a bigger picture, a mission for mmC.
I always felt when managing my Corporate Planning and Project Management (CPPM) team at Oskar/Vodafone CZ that we were a team and that such feeling of belonging made us way more powerful and achieve more things that many other teams in the company or other OpCos. It was that clear sense of why we were doing things the way we did it that when there was conflicts and/or not so nice situations (please note that we were viewed as the company police which obviously created many conflicts with many departments) help us continue without fear or looking back and feeling that we have each other support to continue
This to be developed mission should be motivational to our employees, should be shared by them, should be something that help us and guide us when recruiting people. Here we have another very tricky situation: although fighting recruiting short term needs (customer deliveries less than 3 months away and always needing more capacity, more developers, BD people, etc…), which makes sometimes fit and capacity to belong the last priority, we need to start thinking this way, at least understanding which employees we believe are here for the long term and nurturing these employees to continue developing the team. I will touch more in the coming posting on how to create a sense of community and some learnings from the past

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