As in any business, there are always special missions being driven by a number of people throughout the company. To be perfectly honest, I don't know how many, or what exactly each one is about, and some I don't even know exist. I guess you would call those "covert missions" or "skunk works."
How can that be?
Our senior group of leaders love inventing new challenges for themselves, preparing new missions, and adding them to their existing responsibilities. And better yet, they know when enough is enough and don't need someone (me!) watching over their shoulders.
Our mission-based approach works simply. Often, of course, the missions come from mission control (me again!), and sometimes the missions come from the field--from a manager's own initiative or a colleague's. What is important is that these missions are led by people who understand the needs of the business: i.e., the needs of our customers and what we are all trying to achieve.
The opposite would not work at Tangerine. If mission control were only at my desk, there wouldn't be enough missions. And if mission control doesn't know about the missions right away, that's okay too. Being flexible, being nimble enough to read and react, these are all integral parts of a successful team and integral to empowering that team.
Every branch of our business is aware of our overall goals and what we have to accomplish to reach them. The principles they use for coming up with new projects are not so different from our hiring attributes: problem solving, simplifying and putting the customer first drive our missions.
Look at our technology. Technology is such an important element of how we deliver simplicity to our clients. We have to be aware of technological innovations, of course, but we use them only as a tool to make things easier. There are lots of amazing inventions out there, but aside from being cool, they are of no use to us: they don't make our process easier because they do not make anything easier for our clients. We're not in the business of cool gadget-making, but of making life simpler and better for our customers.
Same with our products, our marketing, everything: it is all about making life easier. So our projects and missions are always grounded in this reality. We are all aware of these needs, so we act accordingly.
It is important that our people have the freedom to innovate. I don't know how many other businesses are run this way, and I doubt this is the style that's preached in business books. I know exactly why I do it. I've learned from my own experience.