Many companies, regardless of their size, would probably collapse if they removed traditional hierarchies, carrot-and-stick mechanisms or even the ping pong table. Why? Because these elements can artificially maintain an operational structure that vastly ignores intrinsic human motivations.
This may not have been a big deal when business success was driven mostly by optimization and productivity, but it’s an entirely different story in an age that’s increasingly powered by innovation and creativity.
As companies continue to shift from bureaucratic and functional models towards flexible and dynamic networks, they will strive to be more than the sum of their parts and evaluate team cohesiveness rather than individual performance.
Oftentimes the subject of vision and purpose comes up and C-level executives around the table roll their eyes. It makes them think of lofty words that have little chance of making an impact on the bottom line and a high probability of making employees cynical about the company’s leadership. Hence, a “nice to have” at best or a “pain in the neck” at worst.
To a certain extent, this perception is not completely unfounded. The corporate scandals of Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, FIFA, Petrobras, Toshiba and Sea World, among countless others, didn't happen for lack of a well-crafted mission statement on the boardroom wall, but rather because words were not backed by actions. In the words of Robert Fritz, “it’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does”.
When taken seriously, the alignment between vision, purpose and organizational behaviors can be powerful, as it leads to transcending commercially oriented goals and embracing an attitude of service. This ultimately creates value for all stakeholders, employees and communities included.