What is the purpose of your organization? This may seem like such a simple question to answer, especially for well-established companies; yet, so many fail to grasp its gravity. Consequently, this results in confusion, lack of motivation, and siloes among teams.
To understand and deliver on a purpose requires more than just a mission statement. It requires clarity. In turn, true clarity demands a 2-prong approach with equal attention given to strategy and communication. We take a detailed look at both of these below.
Prong 1: Strategy
First and foremost, executive leadership must come to an agreement on the organization’s purpose. This very well may be your mission statement. However, to be a true purpose, there needs to be a clear definition of what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it.
Consider TOMS®, the “One for One” shoe company. Its purpose is to deliver a high quality shoe while focusing on environmental and social impacts of its products, in addition to giving back to those in need. The what = create high quality shoes with a conscience. The who = for customers and those in need, worldwide. The why = to make a positive socio-economic impact while reducing its own carbon footprint.
Next, you need to strategically plan for the “how” portion of this equation. How does the organization fulfill or plan to deliver on its purpose? This type of strategic planning requires more than just a “plan A.” It demands a detailed design, then a contingency plan, and then an honest prioritization of the opportunities you will and will not consider in order to stay true to the purpose. For many, this is the most difficult part as it can mean letting go of “pet projects” that simply don’t fit the purpose.
Prong 2: Communication
It’s not enough to agree to a purpose and write it down. It needs to be communicated consistently and regularly to anyone impacted. Employees need to see it, hear it, and feel it. They need to know not only how the organization is affecting the bigger picture, but how their contribution makes an impact as well.
An organization that is clear on its purpose knows where it’s going, how it’s going to get there, and the results to expect once the purpose is fulfilled. This makes for a more confident, productive, and responsive organization overall; and, such a scenario has the potential for rewarding outcomes and long-term success.