You can’t build a sustainably purposeful culture it seems to me without having a deliberately purposeful strategy. Part of the problem of course is that, traditionally, strategy and purpose have lived in different parts of the organisation. My suggestion is that they shouldn’t, and that instead of simply allocating purpose to culture and strategy to planning, the business, the strategy and the culture all need to stem from the company’s driving purpose – its absolute reason for being.
That in turn means that the purpose must be much more than a wish list or a broad hypothetical goal. It must be inspiring, engaging, profit-focused and it must work hard to stand the company apart from its competitors.
Here’s how I use purpose and beliefs to drive distinctive business direction.
1. What is our core purpose (rather than just what is our core business)? When people think of our brand, what is their blinkpoint (the first association that snaps into their heads)? Are they aligned?
2. Why do people buy from us? How have we made purchase an endorsement of the belief we all share? (What do they think buying from us achieves for them, and what matters to them, that buying from our competitors doesn’t?)
3. What are the core beliefs that we share with our customers, and why are they different from what our competitors believe? Are they evident in everything we do?
4. Is this purpose worth it? (Are we making a margin we can justify?)
5. Do our customers continue to value our beliefs? (as evidenced by revenue growth, profitability, reputation and sustained repeat business). If so, what can we do to capitalise on that? Should we intensify/radicalise the belief even more? If not, what do we need to change or re-express that brings people back?
6. Are our own people fully onboard with our purpose? If not, what conversations do we need to be having with them?
7. How far, geographically, does our purpose extend (and therefore where does it stop)?
8. What more could we be doing to fulfil our purpose in our current business (via new product lines, upgrades, new experiences)?
9. What should we stop doing (in order to give us the time and the capital to do more of those things that are more important to us)?
10. What are the best ways to reach and motivate people who believe in what we believe in? (What motives, messages and channels have we not fully tapped yet?) What can we offer them that they will truly value, given what we jointly believe?
11. Who else should be more involved in helping us achieve our purpose? Are we as accessible as we need to be in order for that to happen? Who shares a similar worldview that we could partner with?
- Is behavioural change in a corporate culture all about timing?
- Know thy enemy
- The power of being purposeful
- Human marketing
- The business of cloning
- Market leadership: you can’t lead as a brand if you follow another brand.
- Seen and not herd
- Please don’t try to change your brand
- Breaking the habit of dissent
- More great thinking from the house of Edelman. Business and its brands can no longer operate in isolation (edelman.com.au)
- Inspiring background on how Burberry reinvented itself. A great example of a well thought through and deeply integrated approach where everything worked towards the core goal. The Five Rules Of Business Reinvention: What You Can Learn From Burberry? (mootee.typepad.com)
- Great piece on the relationship between strategy and culture. Bertrand Duperrin: Core Beliefs and Culture (deloitte.com)