No question this week (come on readers I know you have questions send them in…) so instead I’m going to circle back around to purpose with a bit of a twist.
It’s easy to think about purpose (your why) around the big things. What we do. How we do it. Who we do it for. Where we do it.
Much harder is to push purpose into the corners of everything you do. I often see organisations sweat the big stuff only to undermine things on the little stuff.
A great example came up in a conversation the other day when a specific OH&S policy was being discussed and the staff raised the issue that the way they were looking at it wasn’t really in alignment with their purpose and so immediately tabled it to be reviewed and updated.
How often do your staff think about and use purpose when they are thinking about what they’re doing? Is people asking the question “How does this help us achieve our purpose?” a regular unprompted occurrence?
Where purpose goes so the brand will follow. If you want a strong, resilient and aligned brand it starts with purpose. Purpose that is deeply embedded. That reaches all the way to the corners of your organisation.
Here are a few areas where purpose is a rare visitor.
Finance. Yes you need dollars to operate and even if you are a so-called not-for-profit you need those dollars to grow by at least 3% per year to keep the doors open. But all money is not created equal. If the way you get it or think about it doesn’t take into account your purpose then not much else will matter.
Granite Rock is a company that takes putting purpose into its finances seriously:
“To make sure its customers are satisfied after their purchase, the company instituted a short-pay guarantee. The back of each invoice includes a statement that says that if the customer is not happy with the product or service it received, it should draw a line through the unsatisfactory item on the invoice, subtract it from the total, and pay the difference”
You can read more about it here.
Technology. Too often purpose is a slave to technology not the other way around. I’m not talking about technology companies here, rather about the systems and processes that run in the background of nearly every business these days and are too often a barrier.
With the speed of technology change accelerating it can seem like a case of holding the proverbial dragon by the tail. So even more important to insert the purpose question into those conversations.
Marketing. This one might surprise you, but there are way too many 101 check box approaches to marketing out there. I’m mostly talking about marketing communications here as marketing is a much broader discipline that, when done right, encompasses deep alignment to purpose.
When the only goal is to get more hits on the website or tag a campaign onto whatever the upcoming hallmark holiday is, it’s no wonder that inconvenient questions about purpose get pushed aside. But with some thought even those opportunities can be an occasion to demonstrate your commitment. I’ve written about Patagonia’s campaigns here.
And with April Fool’s Day fast approaching I’m sure we’ll once again see all manner of cleverness afoot. Sadly, very little of it will have asked “how does this help us achieve our purpose” first.
So here’s my challenge to you all this week. Put your purpose on the table. Every meeting. Before the next decision. When talking about ideas. Ask the question – I’d love to hear what happens next.
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Don’t miss the opportunity to get your brand questions answered by posting them on twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected].
See you next week with (your question here).
Michel is an independent brand analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan