All Good Things Come Indirectly

April 18, 2010

In a climate where most Irish companies are rife with anxiety about their bottom line, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a focus on profit, is the best way to create a profitable business. Yet paradoxically, this isn’t always the case.

The most successful and profitable companies are not necessarily the companies most focused on profit. Compare these mission statements:

Lehman Brothers: Our mission is to build unrivaled partnerships with and value for our clients, through the knowledge, creativity, and dedication of our people, leading to superior results for our shareholders.

Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Whereas Lehman Brothers’ mission as a company is ultimately to deliver shareholder value, we saw very plainly, the fallout from a business culture based around monetary greed. Google’s company mission, by contrast, is to create the best damn informational service around, for their users (thanks to our new search manager Steph for this insight).

The fact that Google has become one of the most lucrative companies of the twenty first century, is a byproduct of this goal. It isn’t the goal itself.

Similarly, when we look to Marketing, the coolest and slickest brands aren’t out there trying to be cool and slick. They are focused on other more important things, like product innovation or design excellence. We see a glimpse of this philosophy from Apple COO Tim Cook:

“We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products, and that’s not changing. We’re constantly focusing on innovating …  And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think, regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well”

This thought is as true for individuals as it is for companies. The people who excel professionally, those who earn the most money, are rarely focused on their salaries. They are driven by intrinsic motivation, not short term monetary rewards. Their focus is on doing their work to the best of their ability. Success and money come as a byproduct.

When was the last time you had a good night out, by trying to have fun? Like most of the worthwhile goals in life, all good things come indirectly.



2 Responses to “All Good Things Come Indirectly”

  1. paul said

    Agree. In fact, ‘making profit’ would be a a very blurred mission. Most companies forget that they exist to create customers. Sure, at a profit but the profit shouldn’t be the starting point for a mission.

  2. theinfluentials said

    Blurred mission is a good way of describing it. Maybe it’s breaking down the bigger goals into smaller steps. Focusing on the big goal will never get you there – you have to focus on the smaller steps. It’s rare we see “I was wrong” in a post by the way, how refreshing 🙂

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