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.
Insuring success of transformation, launch or innovation initiative by earning buy-in. 4 steps, 5 minutes.
We started with our Vision. Morale got worse?!?!
I recently had the privilege of taking a call from a colleague who was tapped to lead a transformation (otherwise known as a reorganization) of a multi-billion dollar company. A Vision was created, “To create a world class organization,” and articulated to the organization. Rather than seeing enthusiasm and people rallying to the cause, resentment and frustration were bubbling below the surface.
Some simple omissions shifted the balance.
Transformation is hard. Most people don’t like it. There is a simple reason. It’s associated with uncertainty and disruption, things most people fear. In the business world this beautiful word, Transformation, has become synonymous with change and “cutting,” (costs and personnel). When you’re transforming, launching or innovating, despite the best of intentions, you’re creating change (disruption and uncertainty). Starting transformations, launches or innovation with Vision is a great start in overcoming fear and resistance to change. It is human nature to want to be inspired and to want to be part of something great. But focusing on Vision and stopping there is a double edged-sword. In articulating what you want to be, you’re also saying something about where you are--its saying we’re not there. For those that helped create where you are, that can be a problem, one that creates resentment and frustration and can kill any transformation, launch or innovation. Why? If we’re not where we want to be and you were part of that, will you be part of the solution or part of the cuts? Uncertainty, disruption and fear! When you have uncertainty, disruption and fear, people are looking out for themselves, not working towards the goal you’ve stated.
Creating safety with Why, Acknowledgement, Appreciation and an Invitation. W+A+A+I=S and it only takes a minute.
There are four simple things you can do that can help overcome fear and create safety and they only take a minute.
1) Inspire! Include your Why. Vision is great. Why are you doing it? Tap into the deeper reason and align behind it.
2) Acknowledge the hard work, dedication and energy that got you where you are. Are you world-class? Maybe, maybe not. But if you’re around, undoubtedly people worked hard to get you there and people need to know that you see that.
3) Don’t stop there! Offer Appreciation for the people and things that got you to where you are. Appreciating what's been done doesn’t undercut trying to do something new. It shows people you’ll notice again when this transformation goes well.
4) Offer an Invitation to join in an incredible ride in which people will be acknowledged and appreciated when success is achieved.
The simple steps in action
The acknowledgement: “I want you to know that I know we wouldn’t be here today without the hard work and dedication so many of you have offered the company.
The appreciation: I want to offer my appreciation for the work you’ve done and the successes we’ve created. You’ve made a difference and created the platform for an exciting next step in our evolution.
The Invitation (including Why): “The next step of our evolution is to transform ourselves in to a world-class organization in order to further fulfill our mission of empowering the planet to access the information they need to live better lives. I need your help to do it. I know the talent to pull it off is right here in this room. And I’m excited to have the opportunity to work on this with you.”
Transformation, launches and innovation are hard. Don’t make them painful too.
I’ve led businesses, transformations and launches. They’re hard. They’re even harder when your team isn’t aligned and enthusiastic. Not everyone will be. But I can tell you from personal experience that if you can articulate your Why and your vision AND couple them with Appreciation, Acknowledgement and an Invitation, you’ll increase the odds for success dramatically. It only takes a minute. But, it’s the foundation for the success you want to create.
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.