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From a Different Angle: A Perspective - Your Organization’s AIM Provides the Rocket Fuel!

From a Different Angle: A Perspective - Your Organization’s AIM Provides the Rocket Fuel! by Joel Levitt

From a Different Angle: A Perspective - Your Organization’s AIM Provides the Rocket Fuel!

by Joel Levitt

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open quote Leading organizations use the AIM to give their employees, from the shop floor to the C-suite, something to work for that is bigger than themselves.

How many companies organize themselves to take advantage of their AIM? Is your organizational mission stated in a poster on a wall like other bland corporate displays or is it the pulsing lifeblood of your organization?

During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”

“Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

What a great story! Probably not true in fact, but certainly true in action. Historians argue that the original story came from England about 300 years earlier.

Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, Sir Christopher Wren supervised the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral. One day in 1671 during an unannounced visit, he spoke with some of the stone masons and received a variety of responses to the question, “What is your job here?”

The first said, “I am cutting this stone.” The second answered, “I am earning three shillings, six pence a day.” The third man straightened up and, still holding his mallet and chisel, replied, “I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build this great cathedral to the Almighty.”

Whichever story you like, there is some wisdom there because finding meaning in what you do is a large contributor to the satisfaction you’ll experience during your career. For organizations, finding meaning is also the lever to elevate your reliability effort to its highest expression.

One of the central roles of leadership is to create a context that explains why they are doing what they are doing. “Context” is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as, “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.”

The key word is “understood.” There is a human need to understand what is going on so people can give meaning to everything around them. Events and circumstances don’t just happen, they happen for a reason. That reason is the context of the event.

Some have said that people are meaning making machines. Since work is at the center of people’s lives and the context of the work has a major impact on who they say they are and how they feel about that, it behooves people to make the activity at least motivational and, at best, uplifting.

In the Great Fire of London example, the first person is cutting stone –not much there to create a motivational, uplifting activity, or even a reason to get up and go to work.

For the second person, his salary might be more powerful since the money is used to feed his family, care for a loved one, or pay for his child’s medical care.

Money is typically a short-term motivator. What people need is a reason that commits them to fighting for something bigger than themselves and even bigger than their own family.

The third worker is serving his God. As for many people, it is a powerful context that gets him out of bed every morning and motivates him to take care in every swing of the hammer. He is creating a home for his faith. His mission to rebuild the cathedral took 26 years.

But organizations are not building cathedrals. So, what about their AIM?

Leading organizations use the AIM to give their employees, from the shop floor to the C-suite, something to work for that is bigger than themselves.

Take a look at some of these AIMs:

Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Honda: “Maintaining a global viewpoint, we are dedicated to supplying products of the highest quality, yet at a reasonable price for worldwide customer satisfaction.” Honda is clearly a product oriented company. Its mission makes clear the organizational priorities.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts: “One of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences, giving millions of guests each year the chance to spend time with their families and friends, making memories that last a lifetime.” Wow, doesn’t that sound like something you can get behind?

IBM: Since 2013, the company has had no mission statement. Instead, it operates with a set of values:

From the moment individuals are hired at each of these organizations, they learn the AIM. It is the organization’s reason for being in business. Each of these organizations uses its mission to not only choose policies, but to make decisions and motivate people.

So, how important is context? Context is decisive. Go get your organization’s AIM statements and see if working on them makes you feel uplifted, empowered, or like you are working toward something bigger than yourself.