Purpose is not a business goal

purpose
We know that purpose is the new competitive advantage. Customers and employees want to work for and buy from companies that are aligned with their own values. The idea that we’re hearing again and again is that a business’s purpose is linked to its profit, so if you want to be profitable you need to be purpose-driven.  A lot can be said about the association between profit and purpose, but what I find interesting is how business purpose is sometimes conceptualised and understood as a business goal.  Purpose thrives when a story mindset is applied, or as John Kay says in his book Obliquity when we take the indirect route rather than the direct one.  It’s one thing to put purpose at the core of your business because you believe…
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What’s already emerging

coronavirus, purpose
The coronavirus outbreak is changing how we interact with others: the implementation of social distancing measures and the inevitable virtual work meetings seem to be bringing us closer to others. We care for our neighbours, for the elderly and for the most vulnerable in our town as we never have before. In my work as a story coach helping leaders to translate their purpose into story, I obsessively observe peoples’ behaviour, trying to understand how it will eventually evolve into social norms and standards.  If you have been reading the news lately you’ll have noticed the level of scrutiny that businesses are subjected to these days. The main standard of whether a business is behaving according to what is now expected seems to be how they balance profit and people,…
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What I’ve learned about finding and defining purpose

purpose
I wrote this post before the coronavirus outbreak, but I think it makes even more sense now. This is the time when all of us look at the contribution we want to make and the purpose that guides what we do. And more importantly, we ask others to do the same. These days purpose becomes more than ever a place where businesses define who they are. ------------------------------------- In my work I help leaders to articulate their purpose and achieve extraordinary results by owning the story of why they do what they do. Some of these conversations may not be easy, because we need to go through many layers before we can answer the question what your purpose is: this includes expectations about success, need for the approval and acceptance of…
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Purpose and fear

fear, purpose
We’ve learnt that we need to overcome fear; that we don’t have to ponder excessively over what we should do next. The best course of action is to act, otherwise our best work will never see the light. However, I’ve been wondering for a while whether fear is a pointer. Perhaps fear is trying to tell us that there’s something important that we aren’t considering or looking into. Fear magnifies things and charges them emotionally, and in consequence we get the message not to go there. But what if the message is about looking at this hidden matter and paying close attention to it? What if fear is not so much about choosing between doing or not doing?   Is there danger in publishing your novel? Is there danger in…
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Your what is your who

consumer behaviour, customers, purpose
Your purpose defines who you are for: who is going to understand your story, who is embracing your narrative, who is ready, who has got it and who can’t wait. If your customer doesn’t share your purpose, you become another product or service.  Does your customer believe in what you believe? Our work is not just to find people who believe what we believe, but to find those who do and are struggling to get where they want to be. Our business can become a way of getting not close to what they need, but what they want.   Defining the what, the purpose, the value and the intention becomes in the long term the best way of defining who this is for.
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Creating meaning over purpose

meaning, purpose
Creating meaning is the process of unveiling what is truly important for us and others in every single moment. We create meaning when we see the signs in front of us and read beyond what they literally say. We’re creating meaning when we care enough to stay and listen to the person in front of us, even if it isn’t going to translate into a sale or a happy customer review. Creating meaning is a commitment to make any interaction with people count, even if it doesn’t help us to achieve our goals.   We create meaning when we value what people care about and we feel honoured to be connected to them. Meaning is a word for community, not for a transaction. You can work out your purpose sitting…
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Your hidden story

growth, purpose, story
Most of the time your story is defined not by what you say but by what you believe. A story starts in your head with something that you want to offer. It starts with an idea, with an emotion, with a set of beliefs, with a narrative, with the way you see the world, with a desire to make something happen. Your story starts way before you create your first product or service,  you have your first customer or you create your website. Your story starts with a dream about changing something.  And that dream, that desire stays in your heart and in your head intact, while you go around growing and developing your business.  This story with its dream is often unseen, unchecked, untold, not challenged or confronted, and…
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Why do you play?

Why do you play?

growth, purpose, story
In his book, The Power of Story, Jim Loehr tells the story of a young tennis player who contacted him because she wanted to be in the top five again. Her ranking had fallen in the previous years and practicing was not a pleasure for her anymore.  At their first meeting, Jim Loehr asked her ‘What’s your story? Why do you play?’ She gave him a couple of expected answers such as ‘I want to be number one’, ‘I want to be successful’, ‘I want money, a good house and a nice car’. Jim Loehr asked her to go home and reconsider her answers. Next day she arrived with a smile and she said she knew why she wanted to play. ‘I want to be a sunshine to every person…
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When the chips are down

When the chips are down

Business, purpose, story
The story we tell about our business will be tested sooner or later. A long time ago my grandmother told me a story about two friends in her village who bought a lottery ticket together every week. Year after year, they routinely played the lottery in the hope that one day they would win and get out of poverty. However, there came a time when one of them could not afford his half of the ticket for a couple of weeks, and during this time his friend bought a ticket on his own and won the jackpot. It was an insane amount of money. During all these years they had created a story together of friendship and sharing, dreaming about overcoming poverty. And now the dream had came true. As…
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Big is not the goal

Big is not the goal

Business, growth, purpose
  How big is your dream? How far it can fly? How many people can join you? How many people will support you? How relevant is your dream to the world, to yourself, to me, to people like us? What impact is it going to have on the world? What are you willing to sacrifice for your dream, and what is non-negotiable? Thinking big is part of our entrepreneurial culture because we live in a world that encourages us to think that everything is possible and that we can be the masters of our destiny. As we spend time colouring in our big dreams and visualising the future, another question becomes even more urgent: How and when will I know that it’s enough? Big is not a goal in itself:…
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