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Mission Part 1: It’s Not About You

If this reads like a dig at AMP specifically, that’s not my primary intention.
It’s just a good example of how badly off-the-mark a business mission can fire.
The real point is around the danger in making our business strategy inward-focused, and why I feel there’s a better way.
When AMP got caught drinking their own kool-aid and calling it Grange at the Royal Commission, I wondered whether it might actually be the best possible thing to happen to an organisation that really needed to re-join the rest of the industry.
Morally, I mean. Obviously, financially it was like drinking lighter fluid (which I obviously am not suggesting anyone do, obviously).
For years as a coach, I’d found myself working with good people, good planners who just happened to be AMP practices. However, the spectre of the uniquely restrictive AMP business model always lurked in the background, like an overbearing father wanting to make sure his daughter didn’t venture too far from home.
I saw practices encouraged to adopt business models which, outside the AMP network, were at best not great businesses, at worst completely unviable outside of that world.
I once asked a good friend of mine in M&A at Macquarie why AMP shares weren’t worth more, as AMP management had often suggested they should.
“Lack of innovation”, he replied. “Every management reshuffle is just moving deckchairs. Nothing changes, and it never will”.
How wrong he was, but also 100% right and I guess my thinking was the detonation that was the Royal Commission might be a catalyst for that change.
Well, here’s what they shared publicly about their post-Royal Commission mission…
“We are determined to earn back the trust of our clients, our shareholders, our regulators and the wider Australian community.”
…and in an instant, like many, I came to the conclusion that despite everything, the AMP still didn’t get it.
The mission hadn’t changed to be about doing the right thing, correcting the wrongdoing, fixing their business model or, y’know, just generally not doing bad things…
…they wanted to win back their trust that they had lost (presumably so they could get back on with the business of profit and the rest is, well, you know.
It was about them (again) just like.
We aim to be the best advice firm in Australia…”
Yeh, but why?
“We believe in the importance of holistic advice.”
My daughter believes in the importance of owning a horse, but it’s not gonna happen (this year…)
We will grow our business to $10m in revenue…”
How is that going to motivate anyone who isn’t a shareholder?
We will provide advice of the highest quality…”
That’s a legal obligation, not a mission statement.
Mission statements, purpose statements or BHAGs (or whatever you want to call them) that are only focused internally suck.
They miss the point of how much easier it can be to succeed, if
a) you focus on creating value for others, and
b) you have a commercially viable model that allow you to receive value in a win-win situation.
Don’t make your vision about you. Make it about the impact you’ll have.
Keep an eye out for the next blog, as I’d like to share how to make it bigger than just you.
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