Business Advice

So you’ve found your purpose. Now the actual work begins

Michel Hogan /

So you’ve found your purpose. Finished with the workshops, hand-wringing and arguments over words, you can now take a breath. Right? Wrong.

Now the actual work begins.

Absent in the never-ending clarion call to purpose is the reality of what it takes to use it. Sure there is the occasional plea to “use your purpose”. But rarely is that call accompanied by how you’re supposed to do it.

In my brand equation, purpose sits with values at the beginning (captured as organisational identity). It’s the foundation. However, it takes the other two elements of promises and experience to put it in motion, with the brand as a result.

Michel Hogan brand equation

The purpose discussion has become so charged with one-upmanship and recrimination I’ve almost stopped using the term to talk about what’s important to an organisation. So for purposes here we’ll just use “what you care about”.

To learn more about why a purpose needs a story, click here.

Here are two ways you can use “what you care about” every day.

First, those pesky promises. The middle ground of my brand equation. To keep a promise you’ve got to make ones you can keep. And I’m not sure about you, but I’m terrible at keeping promises I don’t care about.

A few years ago I made a list of every promise I made over a week, personal and professional. Of course, there were some in there I couldn’t have kept in that short time, but, when I took my pen to the list at the end of seven days, I found something interesting.

The promises I didn’t keep were either things I didn’t care about or things I wasn’t good at. Neglect drove the former, procrastination born of fear the latter. Reluctant businessman and founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard was right when he said, “we do what we care about”.

What would that list look like for you? Of course the larger the organisation, the longer that list. But done on a team basis the results will undoubtedly tell you a lot and provide a reliable place to start bringing what you care about into how you’re making promises.

A second way to put “what you care about” to work is the experience your organisation provides. Any action or decision can benefit from asking, “how is this helping us to do what we care about?”

And try always to consider employee and customer experience in concert — they are two sides of the same coin. For example, in a decision to change the way people record their time and effort at work, what’s driving the change? Does it link to what you care about positively or does it undermine it?

When thinking about a change to the experience people have when buying something from you, the same idea applies. What’s driving the change? Does it link to what you care about in a positive way or does it undermine it?

Now multiply that over all the actions and decisions you make, big and small, and you can imagine how much more conscious you’ll be of what you care about. You might even get a side dish of people believing you when you talk about it.

When you take what you care about and use it to help shape the promises you make, you’re more likely to keep them. When you put it into all your actions and decisions, they’re more likely to reflect it and become reasons to believe. And when done together, a robust, resilient brand is the result.

See you next week.

NOW READ: Don’t just say you’re customer-centric. Define it.

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Michel Hogan

Michel Hogan is an independent brand thinker and adviser dedicated to helping you make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make — with a strong, resilient organisation and brand as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com.

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