Hollywood can make your company more successful. Here's how!
Updated: 3 hours ago
Every great movie has a clear mission, giving the hero a clear purpose. In Shrek, the ogre has to rescue a princess for Lord Farquaad, in order to get his swamp back. In Starwars, Luke has to destroy the Death Star to return peace to the galaxy.
If the goal wasn't clear, then the movie would be a flop. The protagonist would meander along without a sense of purpose. The audience would get bored. The film would fail to make a profit.
The same applies to your company!
In this Harvard Business School article, it states that "firms exhibiting both high purpose and clarity have systematically higher future accounting and stock market performance, even after controlling for current performance."
Unfortunately, many companies do not have a clear mission or purpose. And those that do, often do a bad job of communicating it to their teams.
In The Wisdom of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, they capture this point clearly in the following quotes:
“More teams than not in most organizations remain unclear as a team about what they want to accomplish and why”.
“Teams rarely work without common goals; yet far too many teams casually accept goals that are neither demanding, precise, realistic, nor actually held in common”.
Just like our Hollywood heroes, your company needs a clear mission and purpose. Here are some mission statements from some of the world's most successful companies:
"Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together" - Facebook
"To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavours to offer its customers the lowest possible prices" - Amazon
"Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it" - Spotify
Mission statements drive companies forward. If your company doesn't have a mission statement then you should clear your diary and spend some time crafting one.
Mission statements provide purpose by defining what you want your company to achieve right now (not to be confused with vision statements, which capture what you want your company to achieve in the future).
Once you understand your company's mission and purpose you need to define some goals.
Indiana Jones's had a number of clear goals in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He first had to recover the headpiece to the Staff of Ra. He then has to decipher the messages and recreate the staff. Finally, he has to get to the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis did.
Your leadership team will create a list of goals which outline the most important things to your business. Just like Indie, some goals will need to be completed before other goals can be achieved. The goals must compliment your company mission and purpose. Here are some examples:
Reach 1m subscribers by 2025
Increase engaged customers by 150k by 2021
Grow revenue by £100m in 2023
Achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030
Reduce customer service costs by £5m by 2022
Launch a new revenue stream generating £1m profit by 2023
Reduce dependencies on 3rd parties in the supply chain by 20% by 2030
It is essential to make these goals demanding, precise and realistic. It is even more important to ensure that your different departments are aligned on these goals. They will set your teams on their way. But they are not enough on their own.
Product Vision and Strategy
Harry Potter would have been lost without Dumbledore. Neo could not have defeated Agent Smith without guidance from Morpheus. Hollywood heroes need a guide to help them achieve their goals and so do your teams.
The guide for your teams comes in the form of product vision and strategy. It provides the destination, context for the journey and some of the milestones along the way. It is worth stating that product vision and strategy is not a list of features that will be delivered by a certain date. It is not a roadmap or a plan. There are too many unknowns along the way for that.
Product Vision Examples
Uber will be the cheapest and most convenient alternative to owning a car or taking public transport by 2018 (fictitious example)
Dropbox designs products that reduce busywork so that you can focus on the work that really matters (fictitious example)
The product vision statement should outline the future of your product and inspire your teams.
Product strategy then provides context on:
Users/Personas and their problems/unmet needs
Key features/differentiators that solve customer problems
Product Strategy clarifies the first step in the journey by:
Identifying the first challenge/business goal to tackle
Articulating your current state
Defining the target state for meeting that challenge and the measurement for success
This is where OKRs come into play.
Many of companies mentioned above, along with others such as Netflix, IBM, and Twitter use OKRs to ensure their teams have a clear purpose and mission.
OKR is shorthand for objective and key results. OKRs seek to answer two questions:
What do we want to achieve? (Objective)
How will we achieve (and measure) it? (Key result)
A team's OKRs must always be aligned with a company's purpose, mission and goals, as well as the product vision and strategy. Here's a movie inspired example to explain the concept further:
How to create great OKRs
OKRs are a commitment to achieve a certain outcome. To remain focussed each team should have around three OKRs per quarter. Each objective should, in turn, have around three key results.
Objectives should have a finite endpoint. For example, the kids in the Goonies must "Find One-Eyed Willy's long-lost treasure in time to save their homes from foreclosure", rather than "Try to keep the Goon Docks community together for as long as possible."
Objectives should be stretch targets - they should feel slightly uncomfortable, to ensure the team strives for greatness.
You should score objectives from 0.0-1.0, to provide consistency across the company. Anything above 0.7 is good. 0.4-0.6 reflects progress was made, but the team fell short. 0.0-0.3 means the team failed to make real progress.
Key results must be measurable. For example "Acquire one Shrink Ray" rather than "Figure out a way to shrink the moon" (Despicable Me).
For transparency, OKRs should be public, so others can see what each team is working on and how they're doing.
OKRs should be written by your leadership as well as by each team. OKRs from leadership help to articulate what they want to achieve. Presenting these to teams, before they write their own OKRs, will result in more aligned goals.
By asking teams to write their own OKRs you'll be increasing their autonomy and purpose.
You too can achieve the clarity of purpose that is present in both highly successful companies and Hollywood movies, if you build a company culture based upon mission statements and OKRs.
The Fab Few provide coaching on crafting mission statements, writing product vision and strategy as well as embedding OKR culture. We can guide you through your first and second quarter as the OKR process is established. Get in touch if you'd like to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org