Why Craft Your Core Purpose?
Everyone has a core purpose. Every organization also has a core purpose. What's the difference and why does it matter?
Successful CEO's and leaders usually have a very clear core purpose. Core purpose, or your organizational reason for being, works like a package with core values (behavioral guide for daily expectations in the work) and vision (the 100 year plan) helping ensure a leadership team is authentic, healthy and aligned. It's one of many questions I explore with leadership teams.
Today we hear and read lots about individual 'why' or purpose. Maybe a sign of the chaotic times we are in? Many businesses and community organizations originate or evolve a core purpose from a founder or owner who is fueled by a passion to solve a need or address a market opportunity. In his bestselling book, Start With Why, author Simon Sinek goes into great depth discussing how 'why' is the focus of what he describes as "The Golden Circle". The circle has 3 layers, from What on the outside, How in middle, and Why at the centre. While most people and organizations think from the outside in, the most successful he points out, think from the inside out. Apple, through Steve Jobs as well as Martin Luther King used their 'why' as an important guide to huge success. To learn more about individual Why or purpose, this read is well worth the time.
For business and community organizations that have grown beyond more than a handful of people, it becomes much more challenging to keep visible and front-of-mind what may previously been understood informally or simply exists in the mind of a busy CEO or entrepreneur. This can create challenges when difficult times happen (eg. current pandemic) or leave a leadership team unfocused when multiple opportunities are presented and choices have to be made.
Larger organizations who craft and communicate their core purpose simply embed it in it everything they do. For example, Starbucks core purpose is to provide 'escape' from a busy day for customers with a personalized beverage. Notice the purpose itself is not about profit but goes much deeper. In smaller businesses and organizations, the core purpose may just be implicitly known and assimilated within the culture.
For example, a local tool manufacturing business I'm familiar with was started by the current CEO's father when he identified a convenience niche to save tradespersons time with a multi-purpose tool. He set out to design a tool which would help every tradesperson reduce having to carry multiple tools and for several decades this company has been exporting around the world. Their core purpose is to, "provide tools that save time, save money and are guaranteed to last a lifetime". The clarity of this purpose works 24/7 for executives and staff to help ensure key decisions remain firmly aligned with why the business exists.
In his best selling book, Good to Great, thought-leading author Jim Collins defines core purpose as the reason the organization exists and extends it to include, "what difference you are making in the world?" He goes on to outline 5 important attributes from his extensive research: (1) a higher purpose beyond profit, (2) inspires change but does not itself change, (3) works around obstacles, (4) inspires team and volunteerism, and (5) states the difference you make in the world.
Can a business or organization operate without a core purpose? Certainly, and many do but as Jim Collins points out from his research, the correlation is clear, those organizations who do better have a core purpose or 'why' that is clear, understood, communicated, and embedded in their culture. Finally, Simon Sinek states, "all organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year".
Time for you and your leadership team to craft your core purpose to help guide your organization to improved success? Register for our upcoming webinar Crafting Your Core Purpose to learn a simple, yet powerful tool to get you started.
As a CEO or Executive of a mid-size organization, are you asking the right questions? Try our 10 minute, 7 Attributes of Agile Growth® Assessment and we guarantee we'll soon be asking some very different and powerful questions for your business or organization!
As a Certified Business Coach, I utilize my professional expertise every day to ensure clients I work with can successfully ask the right questions to find solutions right for their organization. The 7 Attributes of Agile Growth® provides a proven, practicable and profitable path for companies, non-profits, and local governments who want to move beyond their current performance.
Jerome Dickey, MA, ACC, CPHR, Q.Med