Organizations succeed when people throughout the organization are committed to and work from an aligned Vision. It is this Vision that guides its actions and decisions over time.
A key aspect of a Vision is the company’s Purpose. The company’s Purpose is the fundamental reason for the company’s existence—its ultimate reason for being. When your company’s purpose dovetails with your sense of personal purpose, this brings meaning and life to your work. It brings a sense of accomplishment to everything you do. It helps engage everyone in the organization.
For many companies, their Mission statement is more like, what James Collin’s calls a Purpose Statement. We see a Mission as having a beginning and an end, like the moon mission. A Mission is a very specific, measurable end state that the company is committed to achieving within a three to a five-year time horizon.
The crucial aspect of the company’s Purpose is that the company is always working towards the purpose, but it is never fully achieved, like chasing the earth’s horizon or pursuing a guiding star.
A Purpose statement should quickly and clearly convey why the company exists, how it takes care of basic human concerns and impacts the world. A good Purpose statement is broad, fundamental, inspirational, and enduring. It should serve to guide the company for generations.
When articulating the purpose, don’t make the error of simply writing a specific description of your current product or services offerings or customer segments.
For example, is the Purpose statement “We exist to design statistical software for statisticians” as powerful as it could be? We would say NO! It’s neither compelling nor flexible enough to last for generations. It’s merely describing what the company does.
A far better purpose would be, “Our purpose is to advance science and technology by creating great tools to support thinking and action.”
Think about why you exist. Why is it important? What would the world lose if the company ceased to exist? Get to the heart of the matter. You will know that you “nailed” a great purpose statement when it resonates with you and your organization; when it gives meaning to your organization beyond its products and services; when it uplifts everyone’s sense of accomplishment.
Companies not only market their products and services, they market who they are. They market their sense of purpose in the world either directly or indirectly. Creating alignment between marketing and sales on the Purpose of the company is an important aspect of the sales conversation.