Understanding Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP)In 2014, Salim Ismail published Exponential Organizations, co-authored by Mike Malone and Yuri van Geest. In the book, the team analyzed the 100 fastest growing organizations and synthesized their key traits. They discovered every single company on the list had a massive transformative purpose. In the simplest sense, an MTP is a “highly aspirational tagline” for an individual or group, like a company, organization, community, or social movement. It’s a huge and audacious purpose statement. Elon Musk and SpaceX are a good example for understanding MTPs. Musk didn’t found SpaceX to have a luxurious retirement on Mars or just for the sake of building the most profitable aerospace company. He’s driven by the belief humans must become a multi-planetary species. Making this a reality is his purpose. SpaceX’s MTP to revolutionize space technology and enable people to live on another planet creates a shared aspirational purpose within the organization. Notice that SpaceX’s MTP is:
- Huge and aspirational
- Clearly focused
- Unique to the company
- Aimed at radical transformation
Four examples of strong massive transformative purposesAs you read through these examples try to identify how each one fulfills each letter of MTP.
- TED: “Ideas worth spreading.”
- Google: “Organize the world’s information.”
- X Prize Foundation: “Bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.”
- Tesla: “Accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation.”
- Just a company’s mission statement.
- Technology specific or narrowly focused.
- Representative of what is possible today.
- Motivated only by profits.
- Just a big goal or even a “big hairy audacious goal.” (It must also be driven by a purpose to create transformative impact.)
The competitive advantages of an MTPHaving an MTP can trigger incredible outcomes, which is why high-growth organizations all tend to have them. The aspirational quality of an MTP pushes teams to prioritize big thinking, rapid growth strategies, and organizational agility—and these behaviors all have substantial payoffs in the long term. As an MTP harnesses passion within an organization, it also galvanizes a community to form outside the company that shares the purpose. This sparks an incredible secondary impact by helping organizations attract and retain top qualified talent who want to find mission-driven work and remain motivated by the cause. Additionally, when people are aligned on purpose, it creates a positive feedback loop by channeling intrinsic motivation towards that shared purpose. Finally, like a north star, an MTP keeps all efforts focused and aligned, which helps organizations grow cohesively. As the organization evolves and scales, the MTP becomes a stabilizer for employees as they transition into new territory.
How to begin creating an MTPPeter Diamandis boils down two main areas of focus to identify your purpose:
- Identify the who: Ask yourself who you want to impact. What community do you want to create a lasting positive impact for? Is it high school students? The elderly? People suffering a chronic disease? These are just a few examples of potential groups to focus your purpose towards.
- Identify the what: What problem do you want to take on and solve? Here’s an exercise created by Diamandis to identify the “what” of your purpose:
Step one: Write down the top three items you are most excited about or get you most riled up (that you want to solve).
Step two: For each of the three problems listed above, ask the following six questions and score each from 1-10. (1 = small difference; 10 = big difference)
ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS 1. If at the end of your life you had made a significant dent in this area, how proud would you feel? 2. Given the resources you have today, what level of impact could you make in the next three years if you solved this problem? 3. Given the resources you expect to have in 10 years, what level of impact could you make in a 3-year period? 4. How well do I understand the problem? 5. How emotionally charged (excited or riled up) am I about this? 6. Will this problem get solved with or without you involved?
TOTAL = Add up your scores and identify the idea with the highest score. This is your winner for now. Does this one intuitively feel right to you?
Have an MTP? Here’s what to do nextRealizing an MTP requires a different type of thinking. It requires a mindset and work environment that leans into complex problems and dares to think big—really big. SpaceX isn’t where they are today because they focused on making 10% improvements to existing aerospace technology. And Google’s self-driving car isn’t the byproduct of a goal to make a 10% improvement to driving. 10% thinking leads to incremental progress, which doesn’t lead to making the impossible possible—like sending people to the moon. Through history, however, we’ve learned that radically big thinking can lead to these types of breakthroughs. You have the recipe for creating a massive transformative purpose to push you and your organization to the next level of performance and impact. Now, it’s time to get to work.
Download a checklist for writing your own MTP, and share your ideas with us @singularityhub.
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