You've got a Mission. You've defined your Values. But, you've seen the research: Purpose-driven companies out perform their peers on 7 out of 8 categories AND return stock appreciation of 1681% to 118%. If you’re like the Executives I work with, the thought of "another retreat" to define your Purpose makes your eyes water and may elicit the muttering of phrases you don't want children to hear. “So I get it, Purpose Matters, now what?”
From Mission to Purpose with the 5 Why Exercise
In Lean (The Toyota Way), the Five Whys exercise was codified as a technique to help people find root cause, the real source of a problem. The essence? If you start with what you’re seeing and ask yourself Why? five times (on average), you get to the root cause (the real reason for the problem). The technique, beautiful in its simplicity, is one I've used with remarkable success to speed up the process of Purpose articulation for those who already have well-defined Mission statements. Why? Most people define their mission in terms of WHAT they do. If you ask yourself Why? several times, you get to the heart of Why you do it – your cause – and have the potential to inspire your stakeholders. Better yet, I find it only takes 2-3 Whys when working from a well-crafted Mission Statement. Let's give it a try.
Imagine yourself in the Board Room. State your Mission: "To empower CEOs to articulate, activate and actualize their Purpose." Ask yourself, Why do we do that? "Because I believe purpose-driven companies outperform their competitors AND create a better world." Repeat a variation of that question, Why does that matter? "Because I'd like to create a world my son and his kids would be inspired to live in, and purpose-driven companies can do that." Repeat a variation of that question, Why do that with business leaders? “Because I believe business is one of the dominant institutions in society - the one most likely to create change - and I've seen the impact articulating, activating and actualizing purpose can have for individuals and organizations. I’m excited to wake up every morning and work on that.”
Three Whys and we can move from Purpose to Mission
"To positively impact the next 7 generations by empowering leaders to activate, articulate and actualize their Purpose." It, as Simon Sinek would say, "starts with our Why." It is a shared journey that we (the organization) do with our clients, not for the clients. It is aspirational. It is inspiring. It is a never-ending pursuit. It creates an entirely different conversation with our Who, our customers. If you’ve thought deeply and invested heavily in your Mission, well done! You’re one step closer to articulating your Purpose. Try the 5 Why exercise to move from What to Why and articulate your Purpose.
Every now and again you run in to some insights that are worth sharing. These three articles, together, fit that profile. They also espouse core underlying principles I've shared and worked with clients to on to drive value. If you haven't seen these articles, they're worth a read and point towards a changing future. In short, they point toward a world where those attracted to efficient capital allocation, strategy above all else and profits will be well served to explore Purpose as part of their platform. They point to new opportunities and new ways of seeing things. They point to disruption and irrelevance fro the status quo. They are brought to us not by those you would think are typically purpose inclined, but from the "other side," Blackrock and HBR, which makes them all the more inspiring and powerful to consider.
The voice and stories from this blog originate from the collective wisdom and experiences not just of our team, but with those we were fortunate to learn from.