The Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) is the single most important attribute of a true Exponential Organization. It is a declaration of an organization’s highest aspiration, the defining purpose of its existence, and the fundamental problem the organization is trying to solve. The MTP reflects the change in the world that an organization wants to achieve and recognizes that it will not be accomplished in the short term.
An MTP is designed to inspire focused action, express an organization’s passions, and create an emotional connection that drives the organization and others toward meaningful, positive, and common change. It answers the Simon Sinek question of “why do you exist?” and is the core aspiration and purpose of an organization’s existence.
Creating an MTP requires deep introspection and understanding of an organization’s purpose and passion. An MTP is not a traditional mission statement that focuses on what the company does, but rather a call to action for a community to gather and help solve the problem. It is declarative, stating “we will” instead of “we will try.”
MTPs are passion-driven and provide clarity on an organization’s emotional drivers. They instill emotional energy and create a gravity well for communities to gather around. MTPs are distinct from just purpose. All MTPs are purpose-driven, but purposeful organizations aren’t necessarily Massive or Transformative.
An MTP is the most human aspect of any organization, thus the most relatable. It acts as a canvas, and on that canvas, an organization can paint its “moonshots,” which are bold and audacious goals that an organization aims to achieve as part of its MTP.
An MTP drives transformation and connects an organization’s work to a broader sense of meaning and purpose. In an increasingly secular age, emerging generations want more meaning in their work lives, and being part of an organization with an MTP fills that void by providing context and meaning.
Living up to an MTP will inevitably entail countless risks, setbacks, and restarts. However, when an organization is trying to make a dent in the universe or solve the world’s biggest problems, it will be worth it. An MTP has the effect of “snapping” the other attributes of an Exponential Organization together and being the glue that connects them all.
In this module, you will learn why every ExO should have a Massive Transformative Purpose, how MTPs guide organizations, and how to create an MTP for yourself and your organization.
“Shoot the Moon – The Moonshot” module in the book “Exponential Organizations” by Salim Ismail discusses the relationship between a company’s Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) and its Corporate Moonshot. The MTP is the most important force that drives an Exponential Organization and defines its purpose. On the other hand, Moonshots are the actual execution of the MTP, and companies pursue them within the context of the MTP, fueled and confined by it.
Moonshots can be thought of as strategies to pursue the MTP, and a company can have as many Moonshots as it desires and its resources allow. Alphabet, for example, has a division called “X” that is led by Astro Teller, their captain of Moonshots. Today, X has thousands of employees, and at any one time, it has dozens of Moonshots at various stages of development. Each of these Moonshots is in service of the MTP and depends upon exponential technologies to be achieved.
It’s important to note that Moonshots can be achieved, and they are designed to realize world-changing MTPs. For instance, “Making humanity multiplanetary” is an MTP, and establishing a permanent and self-sustaining presence on Mars is a Moonshot that is in service of that MTP. While the first MTP may never be fully achieved, the second Moonshot will eventually be achieved.
Perhaps the most crucial prerequisite for MTPs is that the leaders must walk the talk and always have the MTP as central to their activities. It’s also essential to acknowledge and cover all three letters of the MTP acronym when formulating the MTP. Additionally, the MTP is unique in that it is a prerequisite for all other ExO attributes, and it comes before all other attributes and necessarily guides them all.
The benefits of an MTP are numerous. It helps build community and creates a movement among stakeholders by answering the fundamental “why” question. It also assists in attracting top talent, hiring and retention, especially of high performers. Moreover, it focuses the company during periods of hypergrowth, keeping it on track in the face of potential distractions and tangents. It turns attention from internal politics to external value creation and helps remain outwardly-focused on customers, impact, and stakeholders. MTPs also inspire new products, services, and activities and provide meaning for the core team and wider community. They can help traditional companies transform themselves, and they enable coherent exponential growth and bind collective aspirations. MTPs help align an organization and engender a cooperative and non-political culture, and they enable agility and learning.
However, implementing an MTP can also pose several challenges. It is not easy to retrofit into existing companies and may end up as a brand promise rather than an existential motivation. Holding the vision of the MTP over time and not giving in to short-termism is difficult over the course of generations and economic and cultural change. Imbuing it into every level of an organization and living it every day requires great discipline, as well as steady support from the top. Once a company starts pursuing an MTP, it has to keep it alive; otherwise, it risks losing the community it has worked hard to create and maintain. Public companies that face the demands of quarterly and annual returns may find it challenging to stay on track with their MTP.
In this section, we discuss the concept of Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) and provide several examples of successful companies that have formulated great MTPs, as well as some failed companies that did not have a clear MTP.
Firstly, Google is a prime example of a company with a strong MTP. Their publicly stated goal is to “Organize the World’s Information.” However, this MTP is not just about what the company does, but also serves as a call to action for its larger community to use Google’s tools and platforms to achieve the company’s stated MTP.
Similarly, Uber’s MTP is “Go anywhere, get anything,” which not only targets the transportation of individuals but also allows the company to explore multiple business models. As a result, we can see the company becoming a platform for all kinds of mobility-based services, such as Uber Health.
Danone, a world leader in four businesses – dairy and plant-based products, early life nutrition, medical nutrition, and waters – has the MTP of “Bring health through food.” To meet the needs of today’s consumers who want healthier and responsibly produced food and drinks, Danone strives to deliver healthy products and better-for-you alternatives for moments of indulgence, brought by purpose-led brands. Crucial to the company’s success is that it evaluates all its projects based on its MTP.
XPRIZE, a non-profit organization, has an MTP of “A bridge to abundance for all.” This MTP is designed to encompass a vast range of different initiatives, from prizes for spaceflight to cleaning up oil spills to ocean health to a medical tricorder. The company uses competition and awards to keep initiatives within the guardrails of its MTP.
Infarm, a Germany-based urban farming company, has the MTP of “Feeding the cities of tomorrow.” It provides modular units that grow food on supermarket aisles and inside restaurants, with farms remaining the property of Infarm. The company coordinates with retailers and takes care of the farm including installation, cultivation, harvesting, and maintenance. The MTP puts Infarm on a path to create a worldwide farming network to help cities become self-sufficient in their food production, while significantly improving the safety, quality, and environmental footprint of their food.
Colossal Biosciences has an MTP of “Bring back extinct animals.” The company aims to develop a process to use artificial wombs to return to existence species that have been gone for thousands, even millions of years. Currently, it is implanting modified genes from frozen Wooly Mammoth cells into female Asian elephants to produce a new species with the physical characteristics of Mammoths. Colossal’s MTP is designed to allow for other, more viable, species and the invention of new techniques and tools.
On the other hand, some companies failed due to the lack of an MTP, such as Blackberry, the legendary personal communication device company, which never had an MTP. Once it experienced global success, the company had nothing to drive it forward, and it eventually turned inwards and collapsed. Similarly, Kodak, one of the most successful consumer companies of all time, did not develop a larger purpose and stuck with film and analog cameras, rather than shifting to software applications and digital cameras, leading to its downfall.
Purpose, in its most powerful form, is a company’s defining force, and it has been found to help companies redefine the playing field and reshape their value proposition, leading to sustained profitable growth, staying relevant in a rapidly changing world, and deepening ties with stakeholders. This emphasis on purpose has led to the emergence of social enterprises, which are structured like traditional companies but have a strong presence of social benefit in their operations. Social enterprises operate independently without relying on regular capital injections from charitable institutions, and they generate income while pursuing their own MTPs.
The United Nations reports that extreme poverty has declined by 80% over the past thirty years. This means that many of the newly prosperous people will become part of exponential organizations as they climb Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. These individuals will be striving for self-esteem and self-actualization, and they will be looking for companies that have Massive Transformation Purposes (MTPs) that align with their values. Therefore, creating an MTP for your own life is an important first step in developing an MTP for your company.
Living a purpose-driven life is crucial for creating a Purpose-Driven Mindset. When you have clarity on your own private purpose, you exhibit the emotional energy to fuel your tenacity and persistence. You must decide what you are willing to die for and live for it instead. This mindset is powerful, and Peter Diamandis believes that a single person driven by their MTP can change the world. With a Purpose-Driven Mindset, you seek to find, refine, or update your personal MTP. You live a passion-driven life and use your MTP as the canvas upon which you plan and execute your vision in detail. You understand that your MTP is unique to you and is fueled by your emotional energy. You embrace your MTP and are proud to share it with the world.
Building a company with an MTP ensures that you are on the right road to success. It involves countless risks, setbacks, and restarts, but having an MTP is essential for staying focused and motivated. By living a purpose-driven life, you can apply a lifelong purpose to your company that is worthy of its devotion, and you can change the world.
In the previous modules on purpose and passion, we discussed the importance of finding your “Massive Transformative Purpose” or MTP. Your MTP is the driving force behind your life’s work and helps you stay focused on what truly matters.
To start writing your personal MTP, begin by asking yourself some questions such as what gets you up in the morning? What subjects do you choose to read about in your spare time? If given a billion dollars, what would you do to change the world?
Additionally, consider what injustices you’ve experienced that need to be solved, or what activities have given you the greatest excitement and wonder. Think back to your childhood dreams and aspirations before the world told you “No.”
When creating your MTP, keep in mind that it should be uniquely yours and feel true to you. It should be driven by emotional energy that fuels your drive to pursue big dreams, and you should be willing to commit your life to it.
Remember, the commitment to your MTP should be deep. Co-author of Exponential Organizations 2, Mike Malone once asked a Silicon Valley entrepreneur when she first found her calling, and she replied that she was willing to die for it. This level of commitment is what you should strive for when creating your MTP. If you feel a similar commitment to something else in your life or career, consider why you aren’t on that path already.
Creating a personal Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) can be a challenging task, as it should reflect your unique ambitions and aspirations. However, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when crafting your MTP. It should be concise, using aspirational verbs to describe a grandiose and seemingly unachievable goal. This will help you to aim high and stay motivated even during difficult times. Examples of personal MTPs include Peter Diamandis’ “To inspire and guide entrepreneurs to create a hopeful, compelling, and abundant future for humanity,” Salim Ismail’s “Transform Civilization,” and Michael Malone’s “Explain the present to the future.”
At the corporate level, creating an MTP can also provide numerous benefits. It gives an organization a target to strive towards and helps to evaluate progress. Additionally, it inspires and motivates the team, even during challenging times, and helps to identify what to focus on amidst opportunity abundance. An MTP also helps stakeholders and the public understand what a company stands for, provides launch pads and trajectories for moonshots, and fosters critical cultural support for other ExO attributes such as autonomy, experimentation, and common culture.
To create a corporate MTP, Peter Diamandis recommends following a series of steps similar to creating a personal MTP. He emphasizes the importance of crafting a concise and inspiring statement that captures the organization’s purpose and aspirations. By creating a powerful MTP, an organization can gain focus, energy, and direction to embark on an exciting and transformative journey towards a better future.
In the future, most entrepreneurs will begin with an MTP when building their companies, which will increasingly be started with a corresponding moonshot. Hiring will be based on a candidate’s match with the organization’s MTP. An MTP will be the purpose for which companies are created, which will determine their operations and employee recruitment. A strong MTP must answer critical “why” questions and generate a cultural movement that creates its own community, tribe, and culture. A company’s focus should be on its MTP “North Star” to deal with changing circumstances while never losing its way, which gives it a singular advantage over its competitors.
Here are some action steps for you to take:
Start by understanding that MTP is not the same as a mission statement.
Identify the two critical “why” questions that every employee ultimately asks: Why does this work? Why does this organization exist?
Answer the following questions to create an MTP: Why do we exist? Why do this work? Who are we serving? What do we strive to do better than anyone?
Understand that a strong MTP generates cultural movement and community.
Realize that MTP inspires innovation, and it generates permission to think outside your own constraints and create a new model to support exponential growth.
Understand that MTP moves the focal point of a team from internal politics to external impact.
Realize that a strong MTP is especially advantageous to first movers.
Understand that a strong MTP serves as an excellent recruiter for new talent, as well as a magnet for retaining top talent, and it further serves as a stabilizing force during periods of random growth and enables organizations to scale with less turbulence.