How Motorola found a new way to grow

April 4, 2014, 4:00 PM UTC
This picture of a security guard appears at HQ, with the promise: “We help people be their best in the moments that matter.”

This is Part 3 of a series for by Jim Stengel,  former global CMO of Procter & Gamble and author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies. In today’s Guest Post and in four more over the next four Fridays, Jim digs into the best practices of the best ideal-based companies and explores how they outgrow their competition.

FORTUNE — Procter & Gamble is a framework-crazy company. I spent 25 years there, and we had a framework for everything. We had different detailed protocols for how we marketed our brands, for innovation, for corporate strategy, even for how we did career planning.

People learn through frameworks, or models. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, and it was heavy on nuns and frameworks: Grammar was our framework for writing, the Periodic Table was our chemistry model, and, of course, the catechism was our guide for behavior.

P&G believes — and so do I — that building a strong common culture in a global company requires a scalable, standardized approach. It’s impossible to teach 130,000 people across 140 countries to march in the same direction without a common framework.  P&G employees are dubbed “Proctoids” by industry colleagues, largely based on their shared approach on how to do business.

So, when we began our fieldwork on this project to learn how companies activate their ideals, I suspected we would find quite a few frameworks. What I did not expect was to find them everywhere. And I did not expect to find one that topped P&G’s best models.

We found a Value Tree at, the online auto consumer-service company. We found a Brand House at Intuit , which constantly innovates its personal financial services. The baseball-bat company Louisville Slugger has, what else, a Home Plate.

The best example we found was, to our surprise, at a business-to-business enterprise: Motorola Solutions .

With headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., Motorola Solutions provides mission-critical  communications services and solutions for enterprise and government customers around the world. Wal-Mart depends on its systems for managing inventory, and first responders in 100-plus countries rely on Motorola radios and networks to stay connected in emergency situations. Motorola Solutions’ 21,000 employees are expected to embrace a simple and dramatic Brand Ideal, which Motorola refers to as its purpose: “We help people be their best in the moments that matter.”

Motorola Solutions created its framework in 2010 as it prepared to spin off Motorola Mobility, a consumer-focused business that later was bought by Google . (Disclosure: I was on the board of directors of Motorola during a very challenging period before the spin, and then I was on the board of Motorola Mobility.) This past January, Google sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo .

Led by CEO Greg Brown, the executive committee at Motorola Solutions felt they had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to begin anew with a company that was 83 years old. The senior team began with a nine-month exploration to identify and articulate their ideal, and that led them to the “moments that matter” concept.

In Motorola’s business, many of these moments are life-or-death situations.  “When we talked to our customers, employees and partners,” says Eduardo Conrado, SVP of Marketing & IT, “the common theme was that we help change the outcome in critical moments of truth. For example, a police officer approaching an unknown vehicle. Or a retailer working to meet inventory demands on a special holiday shopping event.”

Motorola labels the framework rather prosaically, “the Strategic Brand Framework.” And in talking about it with outsiders — analysts, employees, customers and suppliers — management strategically relates it to certain company values: innovative, passionate, driven, accountable, and partnership. “Innovative” particularly resonates with employees since Motorola created the Handie Talkies used in the D-Day invasion in 1944 and transmitted Neil Armstrong’s first words from the moon in 1969.

Motorola’s framework is the best we’ve seen. It’s simpler and less prescriptive than P&G’s, allowing employees to tailor the framework to their own roles. The Motorola framework also capture four criteria we’ve found to be effective in driving employees and customers to engage in the ideal — which, in turn, drives growth:

1. It’s focused on impacting customers’ lives. Motorola explicitly puts the customer at the center of the framework’s ideal: Motorola exists to help people — their customers — be their best in the moments that matter.  Notice, this is a technology company making people, not products, the heroes of its offerings.

2. It’s clear, simple and memorable. It lends itself to visualization and easy communication. Employees consistently are able to recite Motorola’s purpose and values.

3. It’s pragmatic and action-oriented. Most employees know the priorities at Motorola, and they can translate them into their personal development plans. Management reinforces this in performance reviews, where employees must show progress toward the ideal.

4. It’s measurable. Motorola has established a protocol for measuring how the company is helping customers be their best in the moments that matter. Technology decisions are made against a criteria of whether they change the outcome or performance of their users. This is Motorola’s roadmap.

The performance of once-troubled Motorola has been strong. Motorola Solutions began its first day of trading on the NYSE in 2011 at just over $37 per share. Today, the stock trades around $65.

Says CEO Brown, who admits he has learned a lot from the transformation: “Our purpose, promise and values define who we are and where we are headed. These are not just words on a wall. They are the DNA of our company and what sets us apart.”

For seven years until 2008, Jim Stengel was the chief global marketing officer at Procter & Gamble , where he oversaw an $8 billion advertising budget and 7,000 employees. Now heading a consulting firm/think tank aptly called The Jim Stengel Company, he advises companies on how to grow globally by driving ideals. He’s the author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, which uses a 10-year study involving 50,000 brands to show how at the best companies, financial performance relates to an ability to connect with fundamental human emotions, values and greater purposes. Stengel, 58, is also an adjunct professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and on the board of directors of AOL . He’s writing this series for with Chris Allen, the Arthur Beerman Professor of Marketing at the University of Cincinnati.