Sometimes, we’ll come to places where the organization highlights a quote from one of its founders.
It is a way to remind everyone within the organization of its values. When it’s shared publicly it also is there to be accountable for it.
Sometimes, the imagination is, that it also can inspire others. However, that may be where sharing such a quote has its limits.
In one of her recent articles, Casey described the variety of interpretations a quote may lead to. The quote she was building on, read “We must motivate ourselves to do our very best, and by our example lead others to do their best as well.” (S. Truett Cathy)
Those working in the organization will have an idea of what “best” means. The way people act with one another, how they serve the customer, or how they engage in doing their job are all ways to describe what best means in their culture.
It is the result of a social process during which the teams help one another grasp what “best” means in the organization. It is the leader’s task to regularly check-in, and learn how their interpretation contributes to the way the organization is perceived and succeeds. It contributes to making it every individual’s task to develop an understanding of what “best” means for them in their circumstances.
An outsider however will take the quote and interpret it with their worldview and experience. It will be aligned with the way they set up expectations for themselves and their ability to give it their meaning. There is no guarantee that it will be aligned with the meaning the founder had in mind.