A Manifesto's Unbridled Power

Manifestos ignite people into action. The best manifestos are so emotionally charged that their catalytic influence can endure for centuries. The Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence are good examples. As recently as fifty years ago, an emotional speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial established a clear and compelling purpose for American Civil Rights. Today, MLK's I Have a Dream is arguably the most inspiring manifesto of the 20th Century. 
Though manifestos are best known for political movements, the ideals and intent of such potent texts can also move people to excel on behalf of the organizations that employ them. Apple is a very good example. Tim Cook stated the Apple Way six months before Steve Jobs passed away. Cook’s declaration left employees and investors believing that Apple could go on without Steve Jobs. Read it and you’ll understand why. Cook said,
We're on the face of the earth to make great products.
We're constantly focusing on innovating.
We believe we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so we can focus on the few that are meaningful to us.
We believe in deep collaboration and cross pollination in order to innovate in a way others cannot.
We don't settle for anything other than excellence in any group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we're wrong and the courage to change.
Regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.
Crafting a company manifesto is no easy task. For the statement to be effective it must:
  • State a Compelling Purpose. Apple’s is all about existing to make awesome products and operating under deep emotional principles.
  • Capture Core Values. Apple’s Manifesto is loaded with core values – admitting error, simplifying, collaborating, innovating, demanding excellence.
  • Tell the Truth. Mission Statements are full of illusionary and distant visions. Great manifestos instantly strike the emotions when they are true.
  • Link Business Life to Personal Life. The Apple Manifesto does not touch on this. It likely doesn’t have to, because unlike most industries, tech life and home life is intertwined – certainly the case at Apple.
  • Be Inclusive. The manifesto must touch (and move) everybody. I don’t know if Disney, Nike, Cirque du Soleil, or the New England Patriots have a manifesto. But they sure as hell act like they do.
  • Differentiate. There is nothing more powerful than differentiation in a competitive arena. That goes for business and sports. Even war.
Unlike the stereotypical corporate mission or the vision statement, a manifesto tells everyone who you are, what you believe in and why you are prepared to invest yourself in the cause. As for a simple manifesto on this thing we call life, I suggest you take a moment to breathe it all in and love it all out.
"Breathe It All In' Image is courtesy of Kal Barteski http://www.kalbarteski.com/
The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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