Can We Talk About Your Purpose?
Can we have a quick chat about your company Purpose? Great, so just tell me what it is … At this point in the conversation one of a few things typically happen:
- The individual starts to trip over their words and gives a long string of jargon which doesn't really mean much, and I possibly nod off halfway through.
- The individual reaches for their wallet to pull out a little card with it written on so they can get the pitch just right.
- A blank stare.
- The company Mission is parroted back.
- I get told that they don't believe in that sort of rubbish.
Don't confuse Purpose with the organisations Mission or Vision
It's not uncommon for people to confuse the purpose with the
- Purpose > Why you do what you do
- Mission > The way you will transform your purpose into something tangible, it's the path or the steps you will take, it's the HOW
- Vision > This is the long-term where are you going / what do you want to be when you grow up viewpoint, it's your WHAT
What Is Your Purpose
Every organisation has a purpose, actually, Simon Sinek argues every person has a purpose which I quite like to be honest but let's stick with your organisation.
At some point, someone started your organisation and they started it for a reason, there was some difference that the founder or founders of your company were trying to make to the world. It's quite a lofty idea, isn't it? However, when you think about it, that's what happened. Someone at some time decided the world would be better if only.. and started a company to do that.
Sometimes it can get lost in the history of the company through changes to the board or the CEO, mergers, diversifications and any number of changes so you must sometimes go back and find it but it's there.
So your organisation's Purpose is the simply the reason your organisation exists. Or it's WHY.
Rekindling or Uncovering Your Purpose
So let's assume your not clear or have lost your way when it comes to your purpose, how do you find it either for the 1st time or rediscover it to allow you get back on the straight & narrow? It's not that hard.
Ask yourself, what it is you do & why you do that particular thing, then keep asking why, and then again and again, if you get to Making the Earth a better place perhaps come back a step and your probably there. Here is an interesting thought, would your purpose still be correct if you were doing something different with the company? It's possible it could be hence don't stop asking why just because you think it's obvious. That said it is often simpler than you think.
Examples of A Purpose
Here are a couple of great examples of purpose statements:
To connect People to what's important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel
South West Airlines
To create happiness for othersDisneyland
Notice that they are short, they are clear, inspiring and enduring, I can't think of a time when you would want or need to change these
Why is It Important To Know Your Purpose?
Your organisational purpose is, as we said, why you exist if that in its own isn't enough to make you think that it's important that you and everyone in the organisation know it and understands it then how about this. With a clear sense of purpose, research shows organisations perform better than those without (Bart, et. al., 2001).
Think about it like this, by knowing the whole reason WHY that your organisation exists you give direction & meaning to everything you do, you provide the inspiration for your people to turn up every do and do great things. Now, doesn't that sound worthwhile?
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