Yes, software really is a mission

I quoted what I believe is a great blog post below by Michael Stanton. It relates to our company as well because we work primarily with non-profit organizations. Business or NPO, you work with a company online and it’s a relationship and not a transaction. You share a vision, or it won’t work. Period.

Does your RFP ask what their vision is? What their mission is? Or just for a copy of their financial statements?

Yes, software really is a mission. For our company I call our overarching beliefs and values our vision statement. The reason I look forward to work versus showing up early but only for a paycheck and jetting out the door at 5:51 is the vision. You can’t sustain 15 years for the money. Here is our vision statement:

“To Connect and Organize the World’s People. Do Good.”

When reading the article below replace the word “mission” with “vision” and it is a fair test on if you should do business with us.

If you don’t share that vision, then it won’t work. It just won’t. Sure we will make you money because we are really good at the whole marketing thing after years of study (15 years old, 30+ employees, 400+ clients, there is a reason agencies are constantly trying to steal our people and buy our company! Curious why I say no? Because I don’t believe in THEIR vision. I did the 9 to 5 thing at companies I didn’t believe in. It was hellish.)

Call it a vision. Or a mission. Whichever, yet THAT is why you should or should not do business with a company. Because I promise you as our CEO that the vision drives Tendenci 100%. And we don’t hold much back from the Tendenci open source for non-profits either. Here is the full quote from the article:

Software as a Service is no longer an accurate description of the paradigm of innovation, of the relationship between customer and service provider. We need a more accurate term.

Software as a Mission.

Software can move so fast that customers are not only not buying a static product anymore, they are also not subscribing to a defined service, they are now believers in a mission and hanging on for the ride. And the ride is fast enough to be a bullet train, but can also be a roller coaster. Companies that seem promising can suddenly get acquired, or go down in flames from premature scaling. They can get a strong competitor coming out of left field.

The question is no longer “Do you like the product?“ As much as: “Do you believe in the company? Do you believe in their direction? Do you believe in the team?“

And if you bet on the wrong horse, it’s not as big of a deal as it used to be. You just take your credit card to the next one doing the thing you wanted doing. No big deal. The cost of implementation is usually just people hooking up their identities and choosing a password, at most uploading a spreadsheet.

By the way, this also means you won’t just have one vendor for what your communities or teams need. You’ll likely have several, and functionality will overlap. We’re going to have to be Zen about that.

So, let me ask you this question: think about your vendors. Picture them. Do you believe in the company? Do you believe in their mission, their direction, their team? Believing is so important because great teams can ship software really quickly, and what you have next year will not be what you have this year. Believing is important because small teams of people can now produce software that millions of people use. (At one point there were almost 2 Million Twitter users for every Twitter employee, same goes for Instagram.)

(excerpt from )

And I’d like to highlight one part again. Because oddly enough it applies in both directions. We have a sales incentive program that does not discern between clients who share our values and those that don’t. You can look back at every deal that unwound and it is either communication or a lack of aligned values. In the next paragraph, repeated from above, i have replaced the word “vendors” with the word “clients” and changed the audience to our employees, outsourcers, vendor partners and to the extended tribe. To (slightly) misquote Mr. Stanton again:

So, let me ask you this question: think about your vendors. Picture them. Do you believe in the company? Do you believe in their mission, their direction, their team?

While it is a common saying for us to “get to “no” fast if we aren’t a good fit.” I think the same goes for prospects. IBM was the biggest so the saying in the 80s was “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM hardware” even though it cost a premium. Yet that also wasn’t the key to great success. Dell seemed invincible. And right now the only PC company I see that I think “cares” about what I do, that I believe every employee shares the vision with, is Apple. And Steve isn’t there anymore. Yet the vision remains.

Purchase the proprietary market leader for your NPO if you are there for the paycheck and not the vision. And while the message might be self serving given Tendenci was started by our company, it is worth noting that the White House is now powered by Drupal. They believe that the company that powers Drupal, and that Dries himself, believes in the importance of open government from top to bottom. I believe it too. It really is software as a mission as

2,065,344 – Flickr views – Thanks

Didn’t realize I had passed 2M views. Thanks y’all. #peace.

flickr views january 2013

and the following photo isn’t perfect. But it was the first. It was just the first time I viewed a photo as something other than capturing a moment in time strictly with people I knew.
futbol in the vineyard
It was the first time I opened my mind to see. And it was too late to share with the only one who would have truly understood. #irony

mission and vision – the only reason why we are still in business

You do it for the 20% of time that is valuable.

First – I believe in vision and mission statements so much that I have vision and mission cards, with values and our honor code printed on the back, both in my wallet and given to every employee. I’m now that CEO who constantly reinforces vision, mission, values and honor code. The first two vision and mission being my responsibility to articulate, and the second two, values and honor code being the responsibility of the employees as a team to define and hold each other accountable to.

Second – this was a hard change for me. In 1997 when I started the company I was most definitely NOT that guy. I was the other guy. The one who when I quit corporate America refused to allow our company to have meetings. “Curbside coaching” and “quick huddles” around a desk were allowed but no meetings as they were a “waste of time.” said the old me. Vision statement? Bah-hum-bug. Move fast. This was 1997, or I guess 1995 for my 4th business (I’d rather not discuss 1 through 4 as they all sucked, but 5 turned out better. Another blog post.)

Training – yes. I definitely believed in training and we had numerous training CDs and TechNet (a Microsoft CD system we used when we were a Microsoft Partner back in the late 90s. (zOMG, HAL-PC flash backs and all. It’s hard to believe how much has changed. and I don’t miss our 128kb DLS line.) I bought as many books if not more for employees back when the company was young s I do now. But they don’t ask for books these days. Which is kinda sad, but ultimately on me.

When we needed a more formal training program I built a training room with used furniture from a Gateway store that was going out of business. It was built like a training room and we called it a training room. Whiteboards instead of drywall all around the room.

Slowly after we passed 5 or 10 employees they started to DEMAND we have meetings. “Ed, we don’t know what is going on!” This shocked me. Who the hell wants a meeting? I acquiesced and we’d do a 5 minute meeting and then 45 minutes of training every Monday. But we never called it a meeting. It was training.

I thought vision and mission statements were crap. And frankly most are. And most meetings are still are a waste of time. Well, not most meetings, but “most of the meeting.” Clarity is important here.

I now realize that meetings are like training – 80% of the time may be wasted on each employee, but 20% of the time is invaluable for some employee and those fragments don’t match up. And you can’t predict which is which.

only resources that are valuable, rare, inimitable and for which there is no substitute can provide a firm with a sustainable competitive advantage

Impact of top management team on firm performance in small and medium-sized enterprises adopting commercial open-source enterprise resource planning
Sandra J. Cereola a , Benson Wier b & Carolyn Strand Norman b

“only resources that are valuable, rare, inimitable and for which there is no substitute can provide a firm with a sustainable competitive advantage”


“Theoretical contributions to resource theory arising out of Penrose (1959) posit that a firm’s internal resources are the primary predictors of superior performance. That is, some resources provide the means to achieve competitive and strategic advantages, while others provide the means to achieve superior long-term financial performance (Wernerfelt 1984, Barney 1991, Kearns and Lederer 2003). However, only resources that are valuable, rare, inimitable and for which there is no substitute can provide a firm with a sustainable competitive advantage (Wernerfelt 1984, Barney 1991). As competitive advantage focuses on the relative success of the firm (Porter 1985), firms need not be large to gain a competitive advantage. SMEs can do so when they are able to take advantage of resources that allow them to create firm-specific resources. That is, SMEs have an equal chance to compete since they have the advantage of greater strength in innovation, flexibility and are adaptive to change (Wicks 2005).”

a human being is a part of the whole

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.“ – Albert Einstein (via Good Reads)