In the August issue of MA Insider I wrote an article on a process for “Building a Company on Purpose.”

Companies with a compelling purpose that unites their people/culture are more likely to engage both the head AND hearts – producing real results! Research shows companies who invest in living their purpose and values outperform their competitors by 6:1 and more!  Research: http://firmsofendearment.com/

The SCUBA process is a deep dive into intentional formation of yourself and for your teams, all of which drive the culture.

  • Set your Vision and Strengthen your Resolve
  • Commit to the journey
  • Unify everyone
  • Build community
  • Align everything

In this article I will explore how to Set your Vision and Strengthen your Resolve.

I was working with a leadership team of a medical manufacturing company. They wanted to clarify their purpose and create a vision for success that inspired them.  After significant discussion and reflection they had a number of good candidates; “We create products that improve people’s lives” was at the top of the list. For some reason the team felt something was missing. Then one of the leaders went up to the board and wrote the following:

“We create a culture and products that improve people’s lives”

The room went still. Then the VP of sales said, “If we say it … it means we have to live it!” The gravity of this was palpable in the room. The next comment was, “We must.” They decided that for success to be meaningful and compelling, it must include a purpose to drives and align their performance goals.

They asked the following question: What does our company look like in 5 years when OUR purpose drives our daily work?

  • What do we look like in in our marketplace? How are we valued by our clients?
  • How do we grow and stay healthy? What are our sales? What KPI’s do we measure?
  • What does our culture look like? What evidence shows us that our purpose is aligning with how we do our day to day work?

Their resolve: “Purpose is not separate from performance – they are inextricably linked. Purpose AND Performance define our measure of success.”

This is what it means to set your vision and strengthen your resolve.

Having a purpose without a vision for performance is like a sail with only one tether – it would flap in the wind and take you nowhere! Harnessing the power of the wind requires at least two points of tension. Purpose AND Performance are both needed to create the tension necessary for movement towards a clear, compelling vision of success.

The company above created stated their vision as the following:

“To be our customers preferred manufacturer of consumable products that improve people’s lives.” They then put clear measures and goals for what this looks like in five years. Their vision included a vision for success measured by Purpose AND Performance.

Working with the AND vs. either/or requires a new way of thinking from your leadership team. In the book, Intentional Leadership, Jane Kise, writes about the power of harnessing polarities. Polarities such as Purpose AND Performance include two interdependent points that create a whole. http://www.ebooks.com/1486507/intentional-leadership/kise-jane-a-g/

Purpose without performance, is not sustainable because resources run out.

Performance without purpose results in burnout and a definition of success that leaves us asking, “Is this all there is?” Intentional leadership provides a framework for leaders to build skill and expertise in holding polarities in tension.

If you are ready to embark on the journey with your company, take time with your team to create a shared vision that fills your sails with success defined by Purpose AND Performance, this exercise that will get you started:

Schedule an offsite with your team and use the following agenda:

To discover your company’s purpose put a long sheet of paper on the wall.

  1. Identify key moments/decisions/actions along a timeline of the company
  2. Each person sign the timeline with their name and speaks about why they came and why they stay with the organization
  3. Select 2 or 3 of the most defining stories and go deeper in the history of events, experiences and decisions
  4. Ask everyone to identify the purpose elements (deepest motivations) they hear being lived in the actions of the company
  5. Continue working with the element of purpose until there is a sense of ‘rightness’. This many come quickly or take a few weeks. Stay with it. You will know when your compelling purpose feels right.
  6. Then ask the following question: What does our company look like in 5 years when OUR purpose drives our daily work?
    • What do we look like in in our marketplace? How are we valued by our clients?
    • How do we grow and stay healthy? What are our sales? What KPI’s do we measure?
    • What does our culture look like? What evidence shows us that our purpose is aligning with how we do our day to day work?

 

This article originally appeared in Manufacturers Alliance’s MA Insider publication, October 2015. You can view the original here