You’ve found your Purpose. You’ve articulated it. You know that purpose-driven = performance. A common roadblock? Not incorporating Purpose in decision making. According to a recent study from Price Waterhouse Coopers, 69% of Executives believe Purpose is central to success. Only 34% make decisions based on Purpose. Disconnect!
Simply put, if you want results from Purpose, you need to integrate it in your decision making. It’s simply a matter of Flipping the Filter, changing the lens we use to make decisions. Sounds simple, but it’s far harder to execute. Why? We’ve been doing something else - making decisions based on profit or gross margin, as an example - for so long, it’s hard to kick the habit. But when done right, it can have profound results, including increasing your top and bottom line.
You may not know it, but Lincoln - yes, that car company you thought might go away a few years ago - has done a lot right the past few years. In fact, they’ve recovered from some extremely rocky times, reinvented themselves and have experienced significant growth for three years running. That includes double-digit growth this year despite a decline in the luxury car market as a whole. When I talked with Executives there, many things stood out. What rose to the top? Their Executive team was willing to Flip the Filter and make their most important decisions based on Purpose. The result, innovative new products, distinctly different messaging (hello Mathew McConaughey), positioning in the marketplace and of course the rapid sales rise I’ve already mentioned.
Inside Out Decision Making - Lincoln Shows us How
As Lincoln began their process they did what any good company would do. Research. A lot of it! They were smart enough to know that what drives behavior isn’t necessarily what people say. Why? The portion of our brain responsible for decisions isn’t connected to our ability to communicate. They took the time to “get under the hood,” of what was articulated and understand what truly drove behavior. The outcome? The realization that what people were looking for was experiences. But not the experiences most car companies cater to with those fast revving, 0-60, turbo-charged experiences you see in most car ads where the car is the experience. Yes, people wanted a great experience from their car. But, what was the point of that great experience with the car? What they found was the car was the gateway to experiencing the world. It was a tool, not an end all. From that a Purpose that inspired spilled out: Creating products that empower people to experience the world. From that came some powerful attributes about what the brand would be. Elegant. Effortless. Serene. Think about the Purpose and the Attributes Lincoln defined. They’re profoundly different from what other car companies tell us about themselves and their products.
It's one thing to define a Purpose and to define what you want a brand or products to be. It’s quite another to live it. Decision making is the magnet that pulls intentions, Vision and Purpose together for compelling outcomes. Lincoln shows us how by making decisions from the inside (Purpose) out. When they faced What decisions (Features and Benefits) they didn't start with Gross Margin or Profit, they started with, will this feature or benefit help buyers experience the world? Will it help make an experience that is effortless, elegant and serene? If someone is driving the PCH will what we've created empower the customer to experience that drive in all its majesty? If it does, if the feature accomplishes that, then find a way to incorporate it. Then let's look at how to make that work (innovation driver!) from a profit and margin standpoint. BUT do that without diminishing the Purpose or the brand attributes we want to define us. Was it cost effective to include 30-way perfect position seats, adaptive cruise control auto hold or 19 Revel audio speakers strategically placed throughout the car? Probably not. Did it help achieve the Purpose? Yes. So they were included. Perfect examples of making decisions from the inside out. Ask Lincoln how they feel about the outcomes.
Stating a Purpose is a great start. But a great Purpose or Vision means nothing without action. Actions are defined by decision making. Flip the filter. Make decisions from the inside out. Results will follow.
It’s easy to say Purpose Matters. The evidence is unequivocal. It’s quite another to know what the Purpose is. Developing shared Purpose, a Purpose that defines the cause and passions of an organization, is even more challenging. Surprisingly, that’s as true for early-stage companies as it is for those that have been around for 5+ years. In a world where we’re under siege with commitments, communications and just “growing the business,” where do you start?
For those of you that have a well-defined Mission statement, you may have a good start. I’ve written previously about using a technique called the 5 Why’s, which originates from Lean, to get to your root cause, or reason for being. For some organizations that’s all they need to get to Purpose. For others, particularly those with 10+ people or those of you that haven’t revisited your Mission in a while, you need to go deeper and wider.
I’ve asked many questions and used many processes to help organizations get to their core reason for being, the cause that ignites the shared passion of the team, the Why of their organization. Two questions stand out as having been the most effective in a team-based setting. They get you the raw material to understand what your team believes and what inspires them.
The words that came out surprised some people and were incredibly powerful. Many on the team didn’t know how aligned and committed each person was individually to their customers, to service, to being good and to helping people. The word cloud became a rallying point for developing a shared Purpose that both inspires and drives the business.
Developing a Shared Purpose can be daunting. Don’t let that stop you. Starting with two powerful questions can go a long way in initiating that process. Results will follow!
For most, end of year means we reflect on two questions. How have we done? What will we do? Those questions fuel two critical functions for helping individuals and organizations. 1) Performance Reviews. and 2) Strategic Planning.
The question/comment I get most often when I’m talking with CEOs and Leaders about Purpose boils down to this. I get it, Purpose-prioritizers outperform. What do I do to start tapping in to that in my organization?
Assuming you know your Why, the next steps of Purpose, the “so what, now what” steps, boil down to this: “connect the dots,” and “flip the filter.” They’re two sides to the same coin that create powerful outcomes. Here are a couple of examples:
Example 1 - Performance Reviews and Planning
You know Purpose-prioritizers outperform. You know that Performance Reviews and Strategic Plans drive the behaviors you want from your team. You also know you’re coming up on both. So, have you connected the dots and created a plan to:
Example 2 - Make it a Strategic Goal
You know that you emphasize what’s in your strategic plan. You know that you want to be more Purpose-driven. You aren’t sure what that means just yet. But, you don’t want to lose track of it. Have you connected the dots by making it a strategic goal to develop a plan to integrate Purpose in to your business in 2017?
Example 3 - Measurement, KPIs and Dashboards
You know that you get, a) what you measure and b) what’s top of mind. Measurements fuel dashboards, which fuel KPIs, which fuel achievement of strategic objectives. So, have you connected the dots and determined:
Great example of Purpose shifting messaging at TD Ameritrade. Effective? Absolutely. Look up Patagonia's results with their "don't buy me," campaign. A 40% increase in sales.
One of the greatest examples of Purpose-driven decision making of our time. Thank you CVS!
Stunning numbers in this article. 89 percent of companies that prioritize doing good outperform the market in medium and long-term share prices and earnings. Deutsche Bank. And, Employees who believe their company is fulfilling a noble purpose are also between 13 percent and 30 percent more productive, according to the Census Bureau's Center for Economic Studies and the Ifo Institute.
How to Build a Thriving Workplace Brand
“companies with shared values with their employees tend to grow revenues four times faster than those that don’t (John Kotter and James Heskett, Corporate Culture and Performance).”
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.