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What Does Success Look Like?

What Does Success Look Like?
So we’ve talked about the first question, why do we do what we do, the core purpose. The second question that we’ve discovered as part of these visions that really compel people and create a shared sense of direction, the second question that you have to be able to answer for your team is, what does success look like. Some organizations that I’ve worked with call this their definition of victory or their definition of success. I’m going to share with you a couple of examples. And just like the former question, then I’m going to ask you to, for your team, think about what does success look like and how clearly is that defined today. So here’s an example of a core purpose statement.
This organization answered the first question, why do we do what we do as follows. To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. And guesses as to what organization this is? This is ultimately, still to this day, the American Red Cross, who operates globally when there are events that cause human suffering. And their purpose is to prevent and alleviate that human suffering by mobilizing their resources, both people and money.
But what’s really interesting about the American Red Cross as a global organization is how they’ve defined success for the organization, for the teams within that organization, and ultimately the employees that choose to be part of this organization, as well as all the partners that work with the American Red Cross. This is how the American Red Cross has answered the question, what does success look like. I want you to think about the organizations that you either work in today or that you worked in before. Were those organizations as crystal clear as the American Red Cross about defining what success ultimately looked like?
The American Red Cross, through its strong network of volunteers, donors, partners, is always there in a time of need. We aspire to turn compassion into action so that. And this is the really important piece of what the American Red Cross is doing here, is they’re defining for all of their various stakeholders, their, quote, unquote, customers, what success looks like. So for all people affected by disaster across the country, around the world, that they receive care, shelter, and hope.
Our communities are ready and prepared for disasters. Everyone in our country has access to safe, livesaving blood and blood products. All members of our armed services and their families find support and comfort whenever needed. And, finally, in a time of emergency, there are always trained individuals nearby, ready to use their Red Cross skills to save lives. I want you to think about what you see here. How is the American Red Cross defining its vision of what success ultimately looks like?
One key point is they’re defining each of their stakeholders, whether it’s the people affected by disaster, whether it’s the communities they work in, their home country, members of the armed services, again people affected by emergency or the people who need to go to these emergencies to help the folks who are in a time of need. It identifies all the various stakeholders, but then it goes one step further, which is to say, if we are successful as the American Red Cross, then what is true for each of those stakeholders. So for the people affected by disaster, they receive care, shelter, and hope. For the communities that we work in, they are ready and prepared.
For people, everyone in our country, they have access to blood and blood products. So they’re defining what this vision of success ultimately looks like. In historical military terms, commanders often called this the commander’s intent. They knew that when soldiers got onto the battlefield, lots would change. Everything they had planned for, there would always be something that was uncertain.
And so they talked about a commander’s intent as being the vision for ultimately what success looked like, so that when the soldiers went to battle, they ultimately could figure it out in times of changing markets or changing resources or changing environment, but they still had a vision for what success looked like at the end of the day and they could adapt accordingly. And that’s why it’s so critical, so important that you answer this second question about what does success ultimately look like.
I would encourage you to go around to all of your team members, even if you’re not the formal leader of that team, and ask them, do you have a clear understanding of what success looks like, if we’re successful, what does our world look like, for our customers, for our employees, for any other stakeholders that you might have, and see if you can get clear answers to that question. And if you cannot, that presents an opportunity for you to then go engage with those team members and work together to define what success looks like. Let me give you another example. We’ve done the American Red Cross. Now let’s go to a for-profit example. This is again back to 1950.
We’ve talked about this company, so now you’ll know it. This is again from a historical document. With the company articulating if we’re successful as a company, here is what the world will look like. Here is what they said. We will experience the sheer joy of innovation. Let me stop there. How many of you have ever worked in a team, a company, an organization where that company was about the sheer joy of anything? In this company, ultimately Sony, their first statement about if we’re successful was, we will experience the sheer joy of innovation. And to continue, the application of technology for the benefit and pleasure of the general public. We will create products that become pervasive around the world.
We will be the first Japanese company to go into the U.S. market and distribute directly. We will succeed with innovations that U.S. companies have failed at, such as the transistor radio. Remember this is 1950. If you do not know what a transistor radio is, you should go search on the Internet to find out. Fifty years from now, our brand name will be as well known as any in the world and will signify innovation and quality that rival the most innovative companies anywhere. Important, Made in Japan will mean something fine, not something shoddy.
Again, if we think about this vision of what success looks like, I would say Sony was pretty successful in their pursuit of that vision of success, and their answer to the second question, which is if we’re successful, what will the world look like. What’s our definition of success?
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