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Focus on the EssenceIf you’re anything like me, when you read the typical corporate mission statement your eyes glaze over and some random tune starts playing through your head (usually some song I hate, like Justin Timberlake.) They are long, drawn out, and, like every bit of prose engineered to be politically correct, totally bland and uninspiring. I’ve always struggled with the idea.

I’m in the process of writing a business plan for Nuance Labs, Inc. I know, it’s not very Getting Real, but the lawyer says we need it in order to make equity offerings to some of our partners. As you probably know, a mission statement is like the second or third heading in any standard business plan, so I am faced, again, with the process of constructing one.

It’s not that I disagree with the idea. I’ve been involved with companies who have no clear mission, or even an idea of where they’re headed. So, I’ve seen the tragedy that ensues when everyone is rowing in a different direction. Clearly, we need something.

Mantras Versus Missions, a post by Guy Kawasaki on How to Change the World (his blog), had just the answer I was looking for. A mantra. Three or four words that cut to the chase, that represent the quintessential essence of what it is that we’re doing. Small enough that everyone, even the secretary answering the phone, can remember it and powerful enough to guide everyone to the same proverbial piece of paper.

We’re building a [web service]( for getting things done. This service will be used by people, our customers, so they should clearly be part of our mantra. The power of GTD is in the productivity it offers to those who adopt it, and so productivity gets thrown into the mix. And while the Web is good for many things, to me, its true power is the ability to bring people together.

Our mantra is: “Productive people, connected.”

Short, sweet, and to the point. The elegant simplicity of those few words will drive everything we do at Nuance Labs, Inc. for years to come, and everyone will know what we’re about. Nice.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Productive people, connected? Can buy the “productive” but not “connected”. I thought GTD is a personal tool. Perhaps you can explain bit more. Good point to start the blog though.

  • Jeff says:


    Thanks for the comments!

    As I practiced GTD, I commonly ended up with a Next Action like, “Andy: Review business plan.” In other words, I’m waiting on Andy to review the plan before I can proceed. In the book, David suggests making a “Waiting For” list to keep track of these and move them along.

    As a web service with many users, some who know each other, I think we can do better. We won’t be “connecting” people in the social introduction sense, but we will be connecting their actions and enhancing their aggregate productivity.

    TIYGA looks interesting…thanks for the link!