Companies like Google and Facebook have been able to transform the world and it isn’t because they had magical laptops or garage dwelling genies on their side. It’s because they began with what author and entrepreneur Salim Ismail calls a massive transformational 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- not just an inspirational snippet to be framed on an office wall. It is the distilled expression of a company’s deep unifying purpose. Its function is as much to inspire innovation, as it is to provide clear focus and direction.

“An MTP is a new paradigm bigger than just a mission statement. It’s a highly aspirational tagline that tries to solve a global issue.” – Salim Ismail

According to Singularity Hub, a strong MTP should be unique to your company and requires specific attributes. It needs to be “audaciously big and aspirational.” It must be something that “can cause significant transformation to an industry, community, or to the planet.” It also needs “a clear ‘why’ behind the work being done. Something that unites and inspires action.”

A solid MTP goes beyond mission statements, slogans, or value propositions. It will be clear and focused but never narrow in scope. It should be credible and unique to your company. An MTP should never be motivated solely by profits, it should be driven to create transformative impact.

Developing and implementing an MTP is all about focusing and aligning your business around this singular purpose. It encourages the breaking of old models and inspires innovation. A strong MTP will have a huge impact on your organizational culture. It is a motivational force that pushes the prioritization of big ideas and creates positive feedback loops where organizational agility, and rapid growth strategies will thrive.

MTPs are not representative of what’s possible today; they’re aspirational and focused on creating a different future. This aspirational element is what ignites passion in individuals and groups; it’s what engages people’s hearts and minds to work together to realize their goal.

As such, a strong MTP will also engage the community and attract top talent and act as a stabilizing factor as they become acclimated to your organization. In the long run, it will also help you retain talent with the right mindset and skillsets to keep your company moving forward.

Creating Your MTP

Salim Ismail outlines a three-step iterative process for creating your Massive Transformative Purpose. This won’t be something you knock out in a single afternoon, so be prepared to take some time with it.

Step One: WHY does your organization exist?

The first step, according to Ismail, is to “Define the problem space.” When you seek to answer the question: What is the problem your organization exists to solve? Keep in mind that your product is not a goal, it’s a solution. People don’t want to buy airline tickets, they want to take a vacation. The tickets are the means that solve the problem of getting them there.

Step Two: HOW will your organization solve the problem?

Now you need to imagine how your business will attack the problem and change the current state of affairs. Start by identifying the changes your company’s modus operandi must undergo to create solutions to the problem space you’ve defined. Be ready to make adjustments to your organizational culture and processes in terms of how you operate as well as how you serve your clients.

Step Three: WHAT will be the global impact

Ismail believes an MTP should reach the largest possible global audience. Examine how your solution can be applied globally. What barriers might exist to global application? Recognize that while your reach may only be local or regional, the impact can still be global.

Wordsmith the Final Product

Creating your Massive Transformational Purpose is and should be a developmental process that can take anywhere from a week to most of a year. Once you complete the iterative process outlined by Ismail, you can start working the wording. Brainstorm. Use a whiteboard, post-its, paper airplanes, whatever works for your team. Then go test out your phrasing with real people.

Ismail suggests bouncing wording ideas not only off of friends but also people you encounter at networking events. “When someone asks what you do, include the MTP briefly in your answer. If they stick around to ask you more questions about it and learn more, then you have a winner.”

Exampls of MTP’s In Action

Boston Children’s Hospital –“ Until Every Child is Well”

Since its founding in 1869, Boston Children’s Hospital has been a leader in pediatric innovation. Their MTP is a lofty one, indeed. It clearly establishes that children are at the core of everything they do and has helped them attract top talent and donors who are equally as committed to that cause. They continue to lead the way in surgical innovations, discovery of new treatments, and implementation of new medical technologies.

Their MTP has helped them develop and disseminate innovations that have improved the practice of pediatric medicine all over the world. The Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Dr. Marvin Harper echoes the hospitals MTP in his advice to aspiring CMIOs throughout the medical field: “Make sure this is a calling. You need a vision that excites you and those around you. You need to trust and respect colleagues — listen and learn from them. Don’t be afraid. Be bold and fearless if you are confident that what you are doing is the right thing for patients.”

Netflix – “To change the way people watch movies and television”

If Netflix had followed traditional management practices, by most accounts they would have failed a decade ago. Instead, they are not only leading the industry, but actively shaping its future. The tremendous success they experienced with their DVD-by-Mail service in the first ten years of their existence would have trapped many companies into a cycle of complacency that focused their resources on maintaining their existing business model.

Instead, driven by their massive transformative purpose, Netflix focused their resources on logistics and analytics. Even though they already had a superior recommendation engine, they held an open contest with a $1 million prize to anyone who could improve their algorithms. They managed to fully disrupt physical stores who didn’t see mail-order as a threat and then moved on to disrupt their own business model as they launched their streaming service in 2007. Today, Netflix has 125 million subscribers worldwide. It has disrupted linear television and become the standard for primetime entertainment.

Tesla – “Accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation”
Solar City – “Pioneering the Future of Energy”
Space-X – “Humans must become an multi-planetary species”

All of Elon Musk’s various ventures are driven by MTP’s. His business are among the most frequently pointed to when it comes to innovation, impact, and success. Musk’s massive transformational purposes has allowed him to bring on the best-of-the-best when it comes to talent, visionaries, funders, and management. All his organizations are forward thinking in the extreme.

In pursuit of his massive transformational purpose, Elon Musk’s initiatives are currently revolutionizing solar energy, electric car technology, and pushing the future space travel from the private sector. All of Musk’s companies are built around education, research, global impact, and innovation. These values are thoroughly engrained in the companies, then aligned and driven by their MTPs.

Creating your MTP is just the start, but it’s the essential first step in any company transformation. And the better you do the work of creating this MTP, the larger the potential impact and the speed of change will be.

If you’d like some help crafting your MTP and understanding all attributes of what makes exponential organizations deliver 10x impact, join us at Innov8rs Bangkok (for a workshop with Clarence Tan) or Innov8rs Miami (for a workshop with Mike Lingle).