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Sep 27th, 2021 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

The Doner Kebab Test

Let me ask you a question: What does your organization do? Why does it exist? Which problem are you solving? In essence: What’s your mission?

All profound questions — and questions which all too often get answered by something like this:

“Our mission is to provide leading yadi, yadi, yada…

The problem is — that’s not even a problem. Let alone something people rally behind, or even understand.

Google “mission statements” and you will find idiotic, meaningless dribble again and again. The best companies I know can clearly articulate what it is they are doing, how they are doing it, which problem they are solving, and why it matters.

Years ago, when I lived in Berlin, we devised the doner kebab test (we actually stole the idea from the documentary Go into a fast-food joint of your choice, talk to a random person and tell them what you do. Then ask them to explain back to you what it is you are doing — if they just repeat the words you threw at them, or whatever they say has little to do with what you think you are doing — you have work to do. Only if they can give you an accurate version of what it is your company does by using their own words, have you succeeded in crafting a good explanation of your organization.

Once you can concisely explain the what/how/which/why, everything will become so much easier: Selling, fundraising, hiring… Everything becomes easier once you become clearer.

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