As an entrepreneur or CEO, are you inspiring? Are you intentional about living and being an example of your company’s Vision? Do you invest in your teams, create a purpose?
There are numerous examples of financially successful companies who have lost their compass. In the end it cost them much more than financial success--it cost them their reputation. Therefore, it’s crucial to be intentional with your vision.
Let’s do a quick case study on two well-known industry leaders: Boeing and Chick- Fil-A.
I selected these two companies for specific purposes: Not everyone agrees with Chick- Fil-A’s vision statement. Yet, the company has had undeniable explosive growth while maintaining the industry’s standard in quality fast food. On the other hand, for the past several decades, Boeing has been a global company that was respected by consumers and business manufacturers alike.
Boeing’s Vision and Mission Statement
Purpose and Mission: Connect, Protect, Explore and Inspire the World through Aerospace Innovation
Aspiration: Best in Aerospace and Enduring Global Industrial Champion
At Boeing, we are committed to a set of core values that not only define who we are, but also serve as guideposts to help us become the company we would like to be. And we aspire to live these values every day.
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Trust & Respect
- Corporate Citizenship
- Stakeholder Success
Chick-Fil-A is the third largest fast food chain in the US by sales, growing revenue by 16.7% in 2018 to reach nearly $10.5 billion, according to Nation's Restaurant News. Over the past decade, it has nearly tripled its annual sales.
In 1982 the company had an annual retreat at the Lake Lanier Lodge. Cash flow was tight; in fact, it was in a dire situation. They had expanded too quickly, about 250 stores. The national economy was in the tank. McDonald’s had recently test marketed their Chicken McNuggets with good success, and Chick- Fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, had built a $10 million headquarters in Atlanta, which he now feared would become his $10 million tombstone. Things weren’t looking all that promising for Chick-Fil-A.
The story goes that on the first day of the 1982 strategy retreat, Mr. Cathy asked everyone, “Why are we here?” They bowed their heads in prayer. By the end of the day, the team of nine people defined their vision and mission statements. And it has remained steadfast for the past thirty-eight years. Today, it is the third largest fast food chain only behind McDonald’s and Starbucks. Yet it has fewer restaurants, around 2,400, compared to McDonald’s 13,900 and Starbucks’ 14,600. Chick-Fil-A sells more chicken sandwiches than any other fast food chain, including KFC who has approximately 4,100 stores and sales of $4.4 billion. Chick-Fil-A has half as many stores yet approximately $10.5 billion in revenue. And as you undoubtedly know, Chick-Fil-A isn’t open on Sundays. While you may not agree with the company’s religious values, you cannot argue with their success.
Boeing is known as the standard of the aerospace industry and for decades held the respect of its peers as well as consumers. All of that changed in 2019 when two 737 Max Boeings crashed, one in October of 2018 and the other in March of 2019. By December of 2019, Boeing voluntarily announced the grounding of the Max airplane and the FAA followed up with orders to ground the plane.
Let’s take a quick look at the core cultures. Both companies have admirable core values. The difference, in my humble opinion, is simple. Chick-Fil-A truly lives by their core culture values, vision, and mission statement. While I am confident Boeing takes great pride in and believes in their Purpose-Mission statement and has created lofty core culture values, I believe it is fair to say that Boeing didn’t live and breathe their claimed values. Certainly, we could argue they took their eye off of their first three Core Culture values: “Integrity, Quality, and Safety.”
As I mentioned earlier, there are numerous examples of financially successful companies who have lost their compass. In Boeing’s case, the company is projecting the 737 Max costs will surpass $18 billion, including returning the Max to service, compensating customers, and reopening the closed 737 factory. To add insult to injury, Moody’s downgraded their debt rating due to the rising costs, the FAA grounding, and Boeings production halt.
In Boeing’s case, the financial costs are immense; yet; their reputation took an even a bigger hit.
Lesson learned… Be intentional with your vision, mission, and core culture values. Live it and breathe it.