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July 18, 2011 Blog 1 min read

During this year’s Super Bowl, Chrysler premiered a commercial that celebrated not only its Chrysler 200 vehicle but also the city of Detroit. The commercial used words like “luxury,” “hard work,” and “conviction,” but it wasn’t until it culminated with “This is the Motor City…and this is what we do” that it became clear it was set in Detroit. It was a pleasant surprise to those of us who live and work here, as the city hasn’t always been painted in such a positive light.

Shortly thereafter, we began planning toward our annual Firm Conference, a daylong event where P&Mers across the firm come together to celebrate our accomplishments and enjoy one another.  We agreed immediately that “This is what we do” would be the perfect theme for the conference. After all, we know what we do—we serve, we care, we appreciate, we grow—and we know why we do it: to proactively provide our clients with the professional services they need most.

At this year’s event, we were very fortunate that Wayne State University Allan Gilmour agreed to be our keynote speaker. He, too, spoke at length about this concept. “If you can get this foundation—this “What we do”—right,” said Gilmour, “and if you can see how it’s different from you competitors…and if you can get the whole company to understand it and believe it and live it, then magic happens.”

But as Gilmour pointed out, it’s not just what you do but also how you do it. “It’s the choices we make about how we do things that really define the personality of a company,” he said. “Will we have a culture of internal competition or collaboration? Will we bend the rules, or will we refuse to compromise on our ethics? If someone asked you these questions, right this minute could you answer them confidently? My guess is that you could—if not this minute, then certainly after this conference.”

So what do you think? What ties more to a company’s success: its purpose or how it accomplishes that purpose? And can you define what you do and why you do it?