Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dream Driver

Three workmen are standing at the edge of a busy construction site, taking a break from their heavy, dusty labor. A passer-by asks the first of the workmen, “What are you doing”? With sweat dripping from his brow, he barely looks up before grunting, “I’m busting rocks”. When the passer-by asks the second workman the same question, he shrugs, “I’m earning a living”. Walking a little further, the passer-by encounters the third member of the work crew and asks the same question, “What are you doing?” The third workman turns, smiles broadly and says,“I’m building a cathedral”.

According to Peter Schutz, the former chairman and CEO of Porsche, people who are working towards a shared objective will always outwork and outperform a bunch of rock busters. The job of the executive, according to Schutz is to get everyone on the team to see the cathedral.

I had the honor of meeting Peter recently, at an invitation-only session hosted by Mike Mallory and the TEC 390 group out of Fredericton. Credited with sparking a dramatic turnaround at Porsche in the early 80s when the company quadrupled its sales over a 7-year period, Schutz believes if you build an organization of ordinary people who work together to build cathedrals you have created the only competitive edge capable of withstanding change. As he puts it, Porsche is NOT in the automotive business. Porsche is selling memberships in a dream.

Peter held his Fredericton audience spellbound for more than 2 hours as he spoke on the role a CEO plays in leading cathedral-building organizations. His book, "The Driving Force" quickly found a spot at the very top of many reading lists, including my own, as I seek to understand even more about a man who has made his mark on one of the world's greatest brands.

As Schutz sees it, "People buy other people before they buy the organization and the products and services it represents. You need to create a culture that bubbles with excitement so that people will dig in, spend their discretionary time and recruit more top talent". Referring to the success enjoyed by Porsche at the 24-Hour of Lemans, he explained, "Cars don’t win races. People and the way they work together is what wins races”.

After experiencing the wisdom shared by the former Porsche chairman it was fairly obvious to see why the commercial inserted in this post possesses a certain kind of magic. One that just might make you dream just a little.

Are there any other brands you have noticed that can make you feel like a kid again?

Any brands that cause you to dream?

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral." --ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY

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