Purpose, it’s a leap worth taking.

16 February 2018

For me, when I walk into the office and ask myself ‘why am I here?’, it’s easy to answer.

If we do one thing for a client, it’s to help them be the most engaging version of themselves.  Of course, we don’t think about this every minute of the day; but we do try to remind ourselves throughout any project that we’re not just creating some lovely piece of communication, it has to be the most engaging version of themselves and deliver.

Of course, we’re just a small team and it’s easy for us to talk about this and make it part of who we are.  But how do you make purpose mean something in a larger organisation, with employees who often far removed from the corporate centre?

Here are our tips?

Make it simple to understand – purpose is the ‘why’, not the ‘what’ or ‘how’.  It’s not your [business_name]2020 strategy.  It’s not even your promise to customers.  It is why you exist.  Of course, this is not always easy to express – and few can eclipse Google’s mission to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’.  But think about why you exist, whether it’s to disrupt a market or simply to do things better than the competition.  Just don’t be a me-too brand.

Connect the purpose to everyone’s work – when you’ve got people doing very specialised or routine jobs, it can seem to be difficult to show colleagues that the work they are doing is contributing to some greater good.  But that’s the challenge.  Because if you can’t show that connect, those people may never feel the same pride others do in their work – and that can mean they leave.  They’re not happy.  Or simply don’t do their work as well.

Celebrate with stories – storytelling is a powerful way to bring to life the purpose of an organisation – and the more personal it can be, the more it will be believed and taken on by others.  The new GE ads bring to life the mission of making the world work better, but it doesn’t focus on the tech or the engineering; it just focuses on what matters to people.  Lovely.

Make it part of the everyday – work with managers and colleagues to make the purpose part of the everyday.  We don’t mean by creating a purpose song or sending a purpose character to run around the factory (but perhaps…); find ways for managers to encourage their team to talk about what they do, what they are proud of and how this helps colleagues, teams and ultimately customers.

One thing it should never be is just a statement on the wall.  Because that is not the most engaging version of itself…

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