Passionate purpose Featured

4:44pm EDT March 1, 2011
Ravi Kathuria, president, Cohegic Corp. Ravi Kathuria, president, Cohegic Corp.

If you could ask your team and yourself only one fundamental question, what would it be? How can we increase revenue and profits? How can we perform better as a team? What are the challenges we are facing? There is a more fundamental question to ask.

Many companies, caught up in the day-to-day activities, lose sight of the purpose and passion behind the company. When I ask many executives what the purpose of their business is, without batting an eyelid, they respond it is to make money.

There are a million ways to make money. What compels you to commit to your specific line of business? If your answer does not relate to your passion, then you may be undermining your success. The most fundamental and searching question you can ask your team and yourself is, ‘Why are you passionate about this business?’

Many companies consider themselves purpose-driven. It isn’t sufficient to have a purpose. You must be passionate about that purpose. A company’s mission statement must capture its passion and purpose. The mission must create a strong and clear sense of commitment, serving as an invitation for people to join the bandwagon. Those who subscribe to the mission, join the company, and those who don’t, join a different bandwagon. Having a team that is passionate about the mission can be the difference between mediocre and superior performance.

Let’s look at two mission statements:

1: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

2: “As we strive to become Earth’s most customer-centric company, we constantly look for new ways to innovate on behalf of our different customers: individuals who shop our global websites, merchants who sell on our platform … and creators of the books, music, films, games and other content we sell through our websites. Our greatest contribution to the good of society comes directly from these core business activities.”

If you couldn’t guess, the first mission statement is Google’s, and the second is Amazon’s. Google’s passion to organize the world’s massive information is evident in its actions and its name — derived from the mathematical term googol (a one followed by a hundred zeros). Amazon, too, is passionate about its mission.

Larger and older companies are often at a greater risk of losing sight of their passion. They become mechanical entities driven by the sole need to live up to Wall Street expectations. They lack the spark — lack the spirit — and can find themselves left behind in the marketplace by new startup companies that are committed and passionate about their product or service. Spirited companies are more likely to create the “magic.”

The mission statement isn’t just a feel-good statement or artwork for the office walls to impress visitors. The mission must drive the company’s thinking and actions. A passionate mission alone won’t deliver success. You do have to execute your strategy well, but a strong and specific mission will become the fuel for your engine.

At my speaking engagements, I sometimes ask audience members to share their passion. At one event, a business owner shared her story. When her father passed away, the funeral home treated her family as second-class customers, because the family wanted to cremate her father as opposed to bury him. Not wanting others to suffer the same indignity, she started a funeral home business. The passion to take care of others during their difficult times drives her. It is this conviction that makes her business special and successful.

Rediscover your passion.

Ravi Kathuria is the president of Cohegic Corp., a management consulting, executive coaching firm. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “Coherent Strategy and Execution: An Eye-opening Parable about Transforming Leadership and Management Perspectives.” To contact Kathuria, please call (281) 403-0250 or visit www.cohegic.com.