Digging deeper?

<p>Developing a corporate mission is an essential activity for pretty much every large company. The process usually starts top-down and then percolates throughout the organisation, so that by the end every employee can state the mission on request.<br /> <br /> Mosts of the texts on this subject suggest that mission (usually with a capital M) boils down to an answer to the question "what will you do for your customers?".&nbsp; Ebay's is a fairly straightforward example - "to provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything".<br /> <br /> Understanding what we do for our customers is as important for a social business as it is for any business. There are clearly millions of things we can do. Knowing the mission offers something to unite around, helps makes us unique, and makes decision making easier.<br /> <br /> But how do we know what our mission is? Is it something we work out by following an intellectual process? Or is it deeper - does it relate to what we feel?<br /> <br /> Big business is largely a domain of thought. Big business (which as I never tire of pointing out only employs a minority of people) seems to be run largely by men, and largely by men who do well in tests of intellectual intelligence. The chief executive may have a more colourful past; but the corporate top team surrounding them are usually chosen for their education, intelligence and quick wit.<br /> <br /> But what of feelings? Our business press too pays scant regard to feelings and emotions. Most business stories are all numbers and words. Sometimes there's an effort to ask "so what does this mean for the man in the street?". But the answers given are usually disappointing. They lack the raw emotional pain of, for example, actually being unable to provide for your children, day after day. The fear. The shame. The regret. The feeling of being at the bottom of the pile.<br /> <br /> Daniel Goleman did us all a great service by popularising the idea of emotional intelligence. But when the commentators and gurus and business leaders themselves are so well versed in the IQ kind of intelligence perhaps it's no surprise that often the EQ idea is analysed, dissected and understood. Then stored away in a folder marked "the emotional/feeling bit of business - not to be opened under any circumstances".<br /> <br /> Small business is different. In my experience people in SMEs tend to show more passion, more feeling, more emotion. Perhaps it's to do with being closer to the coal-face, closer to the real customer, closer to the reality of needing to earn the money to pay the bills every week. And perhaps it's also that people who are more emotionally focussed actively choose the rather less antiseptic world of smaller business. I guess this is also true for most of those who choose to work in social businesses.<br /> <br /> Mission <strong><em>is </em></strong>important. And it really <strong><em>is </em></strong>about what we give. But mainly it's about what feels right deep down. "Leaders do the right thing" suggested Warren Bennis, amongst others. They do what is right and just.<br /> <br /> It's not easy. Even when a mission is found, as thinking starts, doubts will rise again. Rationalisations, reasons why we should do something else. Comparing ourselves to others, judging ourselves against the consumer dream, starting to believe again that it's just a dog-eat-dog world - all these and more can put us off track.<br /> <br /> But I think our hope for the future lies with well-rounded business people who live both emotionally and intellectually. With companies (big and small) that recognise that consumer needs are emotional as well as material and provide solutions to meet both sets of needs. And with business people experiencing the feeling (joy, I hope) of giving to others instead of just taking for ourselves.</p>