Visionary companies are driven more by a core ideology than profits, but they still prosper.
Visionary companies have a higher purpose for their existence than to merely chase profits.
Together with the companies core values – enduring tenets that guide their every decision – this purpose forms their core ideologies: a set of stable principles that guides the company through generations, much like the valyes of the American Declaration of Independence.
Consider for example the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
In 1935, the CEO, Robert W. Johnson Jr., wrote out the company's core ideology in a document called “Our Credo,” which listed the company's responsibilities: first to their customers, second to their employees and so forth.
Finally, fifth and last on the list, after all the other responsibilities had been fulfilled, Johnson said that shareholders should receive “a fair return.”
Likewise, most visionary companies studied were not primarily after profit.
Nevertheless, while some ideologies may seem soft or idealistic, visionary companies managed to find a way to stay pragmatic in their business decisions and make profits without ever wavering from their core ideologies.
A core ideology is important not only when visionary companies prosper but also when they hit upon trouble.
For example, when Ford faced a dire crisis in the 1980s, instead of just fighting fires, its management team stopped to discuss and clarify what the company stood for and how they could espouse the values of the founder, Henry Ford.
Ford's comparison company, General Motors, made no such effort.
Though every visionary company studied had a core ideology, their content varied greatly.
What counts is not the content of the ideology but rather that an authentic ideology exists and is rigorously acted upon.