• A Manifesto’s Unbridled Power

    by  • December 26, 2011 • Branding, Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy

    Manifestos ignite people into action. The greatest manifestos, such as The Ten Commandments and The Declaration of Independence are so emotionally charged that their catalytic influence can endure for centuries. As recently as fifty years ago, an emotional speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial established a clear and convincing purpose for American Civil Rights. Today, Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream is arguably the most inspiring manifesto of the last century.

    Even 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. With bare fisted clarity, 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.

    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 ways 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.”

    Now that you’ve read it, you can understand why Apple is such a formidable force in everything it does. Regardless of who is in the commander’s chair, these values are the soul of the company. Already, the naysayers are falling by the wayside. Don’t bet against Apple.

    Lululemon Athletica, is a self-described yogainspired athletic apparel company, which produces a clothing line and runs international clothing stores. Their manifesto is a list of 31 ideas and life philosophies for healthy and positive living. Some examples: do one thing a day that scares you, 10-15 friends allow for real friendship, what you do to the earth you do to yourself, stress is related to 99% of all illnesses. Lululemon’s goal is to create a distinctive staff culture and set of values that spreads to the customers. Buy something at Lululemon and you will find the manifesto on the shopping bag they give you. Thirty-one life
    philosophies sounds like a lot to absorb, but the sum of the parts delivers a clear vision of the Lululemon way.

    Crafting a company manifesto is no easy task. This checklist should help.

    1. State a Compelling Purpose. Apple’s manifesto is all about existing to make awesome products and operating under deep emotional principles.
    2. Capture Core Values.  This is the heart of Lululemon’s manifesto. Apple encourages its employees to admit error, simplify, collaborate, innovate, and demand excellence.
    3. Tell the Truth.  Mission Statements are full of illusionary and distant futures. Great manifestos instantly strike the emotions when they are true.
    4. Link Business Life to Personal Life. Tim Cook’s manifesto does not touch on this. It doesn’t have to, because unlike most industries, tech life and home life is intertwined – certainly the case at Apple. Lululemon takes this notion a step further – in keeping with their values objective, they don’t talk about their brand; they talk about you.
    5. 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.
    6. 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 vision statement, a manifesto tells everyone who you are, what you believe in and why you are prepared to invest of yourself in the cause. As for a simple manifesto on this thing we call life, I suggest you breathe it all in and love it all out.

    “Breathe It All In’ Image is courtesy of Kal Barteski http://www.kalbarteski.com/


    Did you like this? Share it:


    Formerlife: Jacobs Suchard CEO (Kraft, Nabob), Strategy Consultant. Afterlife: Palgrave Macmillan Author, Historical Novelist, Business Journalist

    2 Responses to A Manifesto’s Unbridled Power

    1. December 27, 2011 at 4:35 am

      Thanks John, more organizations are realizing the value in manifestos, guiding principals and so on. They are the glue that holds strategy together. They help illuminate the way forward and aid in decision making when ambiguity encourages indecisiveness.

      • John
        December 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm

        The manifests ta ‘glue’ is insightful. I’m on an assignment in California and have just completed a collaborative manifesto for the organization. I can tell you this: I felt more inspired by this simple manifesto than any of the dozens of vision/mission statements I’ve crafted over my career. I think the reason for this is the values. Exempting strategists and marketers, people seem to respond to values better than strategies. What do you think?