The Innovative Power of a Mantra

Mantras are powerful things.

Guy Kawasaki, serial entrepreneur and former Apple evangelist, says that companies and organizations should dump their mission statements. Instead, he advocates mantras.

Mantras are clear, concise answers to the existential question, “Why are we here?” That answer should be stated in terms of value for the customer, not in terms of products. It should be very short, no longer than three words, or 10 syllables.

For instance, on a recent episode of Shark Tank, Mark Cuban gave one million dollars to Austin-based Beat Box Beverages. Beat Box sells box wine with packaging in the shape of a boom box. There wasn’t anything ground-breaking about the technology, but there was a killer mantra. Cuban wanted part of the action when he realized that Beat Box didn’t just sell boxed wine, but that they sold fun. The mantra, “We sell fun,” was worth a million dollars, literally!

Peter Drucker said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Mantras are an essential component of culture. When each team member knows why he or she is there and the value to be provided to the customer, the results are powerful, like light focused into a laser beam.

Hospitals aren’t the easiest places to innovate, because, like the financial industry, they are highly regulated. However, opportunities for innovation abound even in the most challenging circumstances.

The classic video “Pink Glove Dance” demonstrates the viral power of a mantra in a visible way. This hospital promoted breast cancer awareness as the entire staff put on pink gloves, from top management, to the doctors, nurses, lab, kitchen, and even the janitor. Like the pink gloves, mantras unite everyone in the common mission to provide value for the customer.

A mantra can help your team focus like a laser beam, and that’s a powerful thing!