Steve Jobs, from an article in Fortune a few years ago:
“We don’t think in terms of power,” says Jobs. “We think about creating new innovative products that will surprise and delight our customers. Happy and loyal customers are what give Apple its ‘power.’ At the heart of it, though, we simply try to make great products that we want for ourselves, and hope that customers will love them as much as we do. And I think after all these years we’ve gotten pretty decent at it.”
…truly great organizations think of themselves in a fundamentally different way than mediocre enterprises. They have a guiding philosophy or a spirit about them, a reason for being that goes far beyond the mundane or the mercenary.
And while we’re at it, here’s another example from A.G. Lafley of Procter & Gamble, in Harvard Business Review:
I learned many things from Peter [Drucker] over the years, but far and away the most important were the simplest: “The purpose of a company is to create a customer” and “A business…is defined by the want the customer satisfies when he or she buys a product or a service. To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.”
At P&G we keep Peter’s words in mind with every decision. We declared that the consumer — not the CEO — is boss, and made it our purpose to touch more consumes and improve more of each consumer’s life. When we look at the business from the perspective of the consumer, we can see the need to win at two moments of truth: First, when she buys a P&G brand or product in a store, and second, when she or another family member uses that product in the home….By putting customers first, we’ve nearly doubled the number served, from 2 billion to 3.8 billion; doubled sales; and tripled P&G profits in the first nine years of the twenty-first century.
Here is a very good summary of Peter Drucker’s thinking on “the essence of a company,” by Oscar Motomura in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review:
When I first met Peter Drucker, 15 years ago, he shared with me ideas that have deeply influenced my work ever since. Chief among them was that beyond just making a profit or creating wealth for stakeholders, the essence of a company is making a difference, being really useful, and creating something the world truly needs.
That higher purpose, Drucker pointed out, has to be something grand — like General Electric’s ambition to be, as he put it, “the leader in making science work for humanity” — and not superficial, like so many of the mission statements that companies have nowadays.
Why is such a creed so important? Because without a compelling raison d’etre, a company can’t hope to tap the full potential of its employees. “The number of people who are really motivated by money is very small,” Drucker told me. “Most people need to feel that they are here for a purpose, and unless an organization can connect to this need to leave something behind that makes this a better world, or at least a different one, it won’t be successful over time.”
Dave Harvey’s excellent book, Rescuing Ambition, releases next month. Through the end of Friday, you can pre-order it for 35% off at Crossway’s microsite.
Harvey argues that ambition needs to be rescued from a false understanding. We tend to think of it “as nothing more than the drive for personal honor or fame.” And ambition that terminates on ourselves, to be sure, is dishonorable. But ambition directed towards a purpose larger than ourselves — ambition for the glory of God and the good of the world — is not only good and right, but essential.
Ambition in this sense is a God-implanted drive to improve, produce, develop, create, and make things better. When ambition dies or is neglected, big dreams die. And when big dreams die, the world misses out, and we fail to realize the full potential that God has given us.
I think that Harvey is right on in this. We have let ambition lie neglected, and as a result have become too accustomed to dreaming small dreams. By rescuing ambition, Harvey encourages us to dream big dreams that are worthy of a big God, instead of being content with life as usual and the status quo.
(This is very related to the topic of productivity, by the way, because ambition drives productivity. Further, I argue in the about page that productivity is not simply about our own personal effectiveness, but is ultimately about helping to make our places of work, our communities, and society more effective. The kind of ambition that Harvey is talking about fuels the drive to be productive in this holistic way. Without ambition, you are more likely to be concerned merely with your own productivity, which aborts the whole concept and turns it inward. Productivity is really about making things better in all areas of life — especially our work, communities, churches, and society.)
So I’m very excited about Harvey’s book. Which makes it fitting that this is the first book for which I have written a blurb. Here’s the blurb I wrote for the book, which sums up my above sentiments:
Dave Harvey teaches us that God wants ambition back in our understanding of godliness and spiritual health. As Christians, we are to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:13) — that is, ambitious for them. We are to be people who dream and do big things for the glory of God and the good of others. This is a critical book for the church today because it helps us recover the spirit of William Carey, who ambitiously said ‘Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.
For more on ambition, let me also recommend John Piper’s sermon Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ has not Been Named.
Here are a few notes I took a while ago from the Harvard Business Review book Taking Control of Your Time on the concept of time leveraging versus time management:
Two key concepts: Time leveraging and time management. Time leveraging is allocating time to the things that give the greatest return. Time management is about discipline and execution—making sure you aren’t wasting your time and that you are following your plan.
You have to have a vision of how you want to spend your time. This vision has to have a clear view of priorities.
Leveraging time is a strategy of using time in an intelligent way to pursue your most important goals. Managing time is the day-to-day process you use to leverage the time—the scheduling, to-do lists, delegating, and other systems. Without the strategy, time management won’t necessarily help you achieve your goals.
Leverage: Taking the smallest action that will yield the largest result.
Goal is first effectiveness, not efficiency.
For those who use Evernote, they have added functionality that lets you assign the notebook and any tags to the note right from within the email.
Here are some really amazing pictures from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
I will blog on iPads coming up if I get the chance. I do have one and have found that it solves trillions of productivity problems.
One gap right now is that OmniFocus is not yet available. You can run the iPhone version, but there are lots of limitations to that. Fortunately, it looks like a version of OmniFocus developed to take full advantage of the iPad will be releasing in June. Here’s an update from their site.
From Drucker’s The Effective Executive:
The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths–the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance.