Redefining Your Purpose

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Powerful Ideas
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A few days ago I wrote on this blog about how Research In Motion (RIM) is possibly moving away from exclusive reliance on the BlackBerry to provide its secure connectivity services for corporations and institutions. Basically, this means that RIM is trying to redefine itself from simply a provider of secure mobile communications devices to something with more general application.

Such acts of corporate redefinition go to the heart of what a company is all about. They usually involve reworking the company mission to a more general value statement. This is how IBM has stayed relevant and strong over a period of decades. At first IBM was just what the name says, a manufacturer of ‘business machines,’ initially punch card readers. Then they got into other office and business machines, office automation, etc. At this point, what started as a business machines company has become a major business partner for any company or organization that wants to fully leverage all its information and knowledge. In other words, IBM has redefined and reinvented itself progressively over the years from business machines to knowledge management.

Simply put, that is the way to redefine your company purpose. You have to go from something that is initially very specific to something that is progressively more general and abstract. Some companies, such as Google, are very general in their mission right from the start: It’s mission is to organize all the information on the web. We can see that even that is widening to organizing all of the information and knowledge in the world. Whether they’ll succeed or not is an open question at this stage, but it shows the more of generalization and abstraction that must underlie all such redefinitions of purpose.

In my next posting, I’ll elaborate on the questions you need to ask yourself in order to go through such a redefinition process.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

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