It’s all about WHY?

We often giggle at RedBalloon that all of us (including me) are generation ‘Why?’ – rather than ‘Y’. When I started this business (what seems like a lifetime ago) I too wanted to work in an environment that I loved to come to everyday. I wanted to dedicate my talents to something that I believed in. Something that would make the world a better place.

Discovering and understanding the RedBalloon purpose has driven me and inspired the team, suppliers and other stakeholders, including our clients. We know why we do what we do everyday, which means when we further the ’cause’, we go home everyday feeling like a winner, having achieved something that is made a contribution to something bigger than ourselves.

Having read Jim Collins books years ago it was quite evident that ‘great companies’ are driven by a purpose and united by shared values. So I was delighted to discover a whole book dedicated just to PURPOSE.

Nikos Mourkogiannis wrote his book Purpose back in 2006. I’ve heard this small book has had a massive impact on organisations of all sizes by aligning people to a shared sense of purpose to drive change and focus throughout ‘broken’ organisations.

His book simply demonstrates:

  • Successful companies have a clear sense of purpose – and everyone knows what it is.
  • Individuals who have a personal purpose have ‘strong characters’ and are resilient.
  • That purpose is a greater motivator over the long-term than a charismatic leader.
  • Purpose is not ethics, values or governance.
  • It creates a form of energy.
  • Organisations with a single-minded purpose, which is clearly articulated over and over again will mean that its employees find meaning in their work and as a result are far more engaged.
  • Fundamentally, purpose will drive business success by:

1. Driving achievement
2. Revealing human dynamics
3. Motivate people

When we sat down to talk about why we do what we do at RedBalloon – we discovered our purpose by listening to our customers and understanding the impact that we were having. It came from the stories from the team and what made them feel great about working for RedBalloon. Each person at RedBalloon tends to make the purpose their own. For some it is about employee engagement, others on reducing clutter, for others they just want to ‘give people a good time’. Changing gifting in Australia and NZ forever means different things for our people – but everyone is aligned to the one purpose.

It is interesting to read that there are different types of purpose… for many organisations it can take a lot of soul searching to discover what really drives them. I was speaking to a banker today and we chatted about purpose… and I asked her if her purpose was to support Australian businesses grow and develop because they have funding for expansion. I suggested that her work is making Australia a better place, a more robust economy, creating employment. You might think that I am overly airy-fairy… but if we keep asking the question ‘why’ do we do what we do… it is not usually about money… money is just a means to an end.

Mourkogiannis suggested that there were four types of purpose:

1. Discovery – Never been done before (new products/services).
2. Excellence – Aiming higher than people know is possible – reaching goals.
3. Altruism – Helping people in need – the world will be a happier and better place.
4. Heroism – Leading the way – destined for greatness.

Great leadership inspires people to unite for the collective good of all. Leaders must clearly define the purpose – otherwise how do they know where they are going?

Naomi Simson is considered one of Australia’s ‘Best Bosses’. She is an employee engagement advocate and practices what she preaches in her own business. RedBalloon has been named as one of only six Hewitt Best Employers in Australia and New Zealand for 2009 and awarded an engagement scorecard of over 90% two years in a row – the average in Australian businesses is 55%. RedBalloon has also been nominated by BRW as being in the top 10 Best Places to Work in Australia behind the likes of Google. One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a passionate speaker inspiring people on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blog and is a published author – and has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded –


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