Who has the Best Mission statement?

A mission statement must be inspiring to begin with. It should be shown and not just tell. It is best internalized and entrenched. It is shown in the products and services offered. Hence, customers can tell you what your real mission is, Apple is one that achieve the highest standard in inspiration and showing of their mission. We can also learn mucth from the Apple’s mission too,

Inspiring.
A mission statement is about the purpose of your existence. It is your identity and the value that you provide to a particular group of people. It gives meaning. It should be inspiring. It differs from Vision statements. Mission is about why whereas Vision is about what at some future point in time. Vision explains what your mission looks like to internal and external people. Values are your key believes that shape your decisions and behaviors; those important qualities and moral standards that define who your are. Getting back to mission, a mission statement must also be inspiring.

Recently, Li Ka Shing, Asian richest man, was reported in ZaoBao of 8 Oct 2014 (Chinese Newspaper in Singapore) that he liked a particular quote in the book “Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The quote is:

  • If you want to build a ship, don’t just drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead inspire them to yearn to set sail for the endless sea.
He further said that if the society can be inspired to set sail for sea, then an Asian Silicon Valley will appear. Hence, we can see the importance of the inspiration in a mission statement. It is of course very sad to see most companies, even the large listed companies, have mission statements that are vanilla statements of what they do. They are just making a living rather than impacting the world.

In Sun Zi’s Art of War, the first of the five factors for winning war is 道 Dao, the mission and values of the people. Sun Zi explained Dao as the one that unite the top and the bottom so that they can bravely live or die together. Unity is one of the 5 keys for winning that he emphasized again in the later chapters of his book.

Show, Don’t just tell.
If you try to look for Apple’s mission statement, you will not be able to find it even in their website or their publicatioins. However, I believe, Apple’s Mission is personalized and personified in Steve Jobs. “Making a dent in the universe” is one of his famous quote. He had over the years, created the unique Apple culture that reflected its mission. Steve Jobs believed in showing rather telling. This is in fact a great teaching of Lao Zi. In Dao De Jing chapter, we find the following statement:

  • 是 以 圣 人 处 无 为 之 事  行 不 言 之 教.
    Therefore, the saints do things that violate not the nature order. They are to teach without words (i.e.  teach by examples. The exhortation is not about not to teach, but to teach rightly, by being the model for others to follow). This teaching without words is repeated in Chapter 43.
The mission is not taught but caught and is shown in the way the staff work and in the products and services that they offer.
Nevertheless, Apple did begin with a mission statement, in 1980s, as
  • “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

But once the mission is internalized, there is no need to state it explicitly.

Internalized and Entrenched – The Culture
Mission statement must be implemented in the company policies, procedures, practices and systems. Also in the building design, office layout, retail space deco, the vehicles and everything else. It takes time and effort for the staff to internalize the mission and for the mission to be entrenched in all the practices. In the long run, it creates the unique culture that give its the competitive strengths. Technologies can be bought, practices can be copied, but culture cannot be easily copied.

Customers tell you your real mission.
The mission best shown in the products and services that the company offer to its customers. Customers are the ones to tell you accurately and truly about your mission.

What is the Apple mission statement? What words come to your mind when you think about Apple?
Simplicity, Elegance, Beauty, Wow, Eaes of Use, Fashionabe, Stylist and Classy, even Sexy. You are right. Those are the key ingredients of Apple’s mission. The true mission of a company is in its Brand. Brand is not what you claim but what customers say about you from their experience with you over a long period of time. In short

  • Your true mission is not what you say but what customers say!

My mindmap of Apple’s Mission:
Apple’s mission can be found, indirectly, in Youtube videos on “Apple – Design by Apple – Intention” and “Apple Ad – Our Signature”. Apple called their mission statement, intention and signature. Indeed, your signature is your identity which is also your mission.

Notice that the value that customers appreciate is in how they feel about your products and services. It is all about creating a wow experience that get the customers to ask for more!

Lim Liat (c) 8 Oct 14

Seven Attributes for Greatness without Fault

These seven attributes are not only the ones that help you become great but also about staying great. It is greatness without any fault. The seven are position of humility, a big heart, relating with kindness, communication with integrity, management with order, working with your abilities and acting on the right time.

Here is the mind-map containing the original, my translations and extensions for becoming and staying great.

Hope you like it.

Lim Liat (c) 17 May 2014

Behavior of Winners – Learn from Confucius

Successful people behave differently from the common people. Winners act differently from the losers. Here is some guidelines from Confucius about how wise gentleman shall behave. Does the list give you some new pointers to improve your behavior?
Confucius said, “Wise Gentleman has nine considerations: 孔子曰:「君子有九思:

  1. 視思明,See with clarity.
    Enterpreneurs have special keen eyes to spot the opportunites for new business whereever and whenever they make visits. They notice the difficulties that workers have in doing their jobs. The makeshifts temporary solutions to make the job easier. The environment noices and cleanliness where the job was performed. The frequent stoppages and interruptions. For many people, they could not even notice the new hairdo or new dress that their spouses have put on!
  2. 聽思聰,Listen with understanding.
    Listening is not just about paying attention to what is said. It is also about hearing what are not said and the real meaning for the speech. If there be any lack of understanding, it will be good to ask to clarify if possible.
  3. 色思溫,Facial Expression is to be gentle and welcoming.
    It is easy to be rude to people. Just give them some faces or looks. A smile is very attractive.
  4. 貌思恭,Manners must be respectful.
    Giving respect begats respect. If you show respects to others, others are more willing to teach and guide you.
  5. 言思忠,Speech with integrity/honesty.
    Praising others are good but it should be done with sincerity and truthfully. Otherwise, the praises without sincerity actually become insults. It is easy for people to tell. Even though we are encouraged to tell the truth and be honest, we must know how to cover the truth with grace. Truth could be cutting and hence when we speak it, it has not be done in love.
  6. 事思敬,Work with excellence(respect for the work)
    There is the saying that any task worth doing is worth doing it well. The pursue of excellence is the foundation for all great work.
  7. 疑思問,Ask when in doubts (don’t blur through it)
    If there by any doubt or lack of clarity in our thought, then we should ask questions to get the right answers. Not asking because of loss of face or mere laziness show our lack of learning and improvement.
  8. 忿思難,When angry, consider the potential bad consequences before blowing up.
    It is easy to let it out and let the other have it when we are angry. It takes great self control to hold our our outburst and use it as a starting point to find out. Emotion acts as your emotional “sensors”. They are to be indicators of reality, not fabricators or framers of reality. … Ravi Zacharias.
  9. 見得思義。When seeing profits, consider getting them righteously」
    When offered an opportunity, it is easy for us to jump at it and take advantages of. But we must consider the rightfulness of doing it first. Profits from short-cuts, cheating, beating the laws are but temporary. The consequences on self and related others could be worse in the longer term. The best way to make money is to make them righteously. It will be long term and you can sleep peacefully.
If there be one word that unit the nine considerations, it is about taking interests to know more about whatever you may find yourself in. Having the interest to know more about things and people will enrich not just your knowledge but also the people relationships. You interests in others triggered corrsesponding interests in you by the others.
Hope you pick up some pointers for improving yourself.
and for more Chinese Wisdom see Ancient Chinese Wisdom
Lim Liat (c) 10 Apr 14

6 Types of Prisons and the Story of Great Men that Fall – Wisdom of I-Ching #47 困 Boxed-In

I-Ching gives us 6 types of prisons that also reflect the life story of those great men and women that started with almost nothing, achieve great success, and ended with a great fall. Heed the wisdom of I-Ching to get success and sustain it.It is commonly acknowledged that the greatest sin is Pride. Pride is the downfall of many greats, including even Satan, the chief of the devils, according to the Bible. Then there is the saying of 3G temptations that bring down many greats too. The 3G stands for Glory, Gold and Girls(or Guys). Glory is related to Pride. Gold is related to riches and wealth. Girls/Guys is related to sexual lust. In I-Ching, there is a hexagram #47 困 Boxed-In or trapped that give us 6 types of prisons.

They are:

  1. Prison of Darkness – Lack of knowledge or wisdom. The solution is obvious – learn and acquire to wisdom to gain the light and see the way out of the prison.
  2. Prison of Pleasures – Loosing oneself in drinking, dinning and wild partying The advice from I-Ching is to save the money on partying and give them to charities instead. Giving may bring the true happiness of inner joy rather than from external simulation of food and wine. The Bible book Ecclesiastes 7:2-6 says that it is better to be in the house of mourning than of feasting because in mourning one can learn and be wise and all the feasting and laughter will only make fool out of us!
  3. Prison of Hardships and Oppositions. Going forward is met by stone and yet staying put is like resting on thorns. To break free, one has to consult Hexagram 40 解 Freed – Get with Decisive Actions.
  4. Prison of Riches. Riches and wealth have much power. But somehow with human, we then to get proud and use them wrongly either wasting them on our own luxurious livings or bullying others.
  5. Prison of Power. We can easily recall the popular statement, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
  6. Prison of Anxiety. As the world becomes even more uncertain, people worry more and more and suffer from depressions.
The 3 Prisons that We may have Igorned

Compared with the 3G(Glory=Power, Gold=Riches, Girls=Pleasures) mentioned earlier, the three new prisons introduced by I-Ching are Darkness, Hardship/Oppositions and Anxiety.

6-Stage Life Cycle of Great Men/Women
The Life Story of Those Great Men/Women that Fall There is also a progressive relationship among the 6 types of prisons (this is a principle teaching of I-Ching). The beginning prison of darkness is the lack of knowledge. When we get smarter and richer, we may be trapped in pleasures. However, if we get smart and break free from it by continue to work hard and expand, we then encounter the next stage of more and more opposition. Overcoming obstacles and hardships brings forth riches and riches bring forth power. Now that we have riches and power, we may begin to worry about loosing them. Is not this the life history of many great men and women that started with nothing? If only they study and heed the wisdom of I-Ching, they may be able to maintain their success and progress to a greater height instead of the big down fall.
For more on I-Ching, see Making I-Ching Come Alive! The Key Principles & Applications and even more with Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Lim Liat (c) 10 Feb 2014