My mother-in-law got her kitchen remodeled, and let her husband and the contractor pick out her stove. When it arrived, this little old lady had a tough time using it. At Christmas, when visiting, I tried it out, being a cook, and found it poorly designed with questionable quality. As the Christmas Dinner chef, I was completely frustrated with it and decided to fix this situation. The next day I took my mother in law to the appliance store so she could pick out a stove she liked, and I would pay for. It seemed criminal that her main tool was unsuitable for her to use. No one understood the importance of a tool that fit her requirements. Husband said, “You’ll get used to it.” Contractor picked an expensive one. Because I listened to her, I realized how important this tool was to her, she spent many hours a day working with it. It dawned on me that discovering the noble cause here was important.
Genentech, a very large pharmaceutical company in South San Francisco, was voted no. 1 best place to work in the ‘Giant Company’ category recently, because they believe in their noble cause – saving lives. This culture of noble cause starts at the top with CEO Arthur Levinson, who keeps everyone focused on patient benefits during drug development.
I worked on a drug and delivery system recently that when developed, would help millions of sufferers. The technical lead understood the noble cause, but when he tried sell this to management for the project kick off meeting, powers in the culture poo-pooed the idea. For them, the project was just a job, profit sharing, bonus. This project got cancelled for lack of progress.
Imagine how exciting and fun projects would be if we could find the noble cause. It’s there, do we see it? Do we believe it? How about our management, do they see it? Does our customer?