The core of a strong company narrative is “why” the company exists, aka its purpose.
For most business leaders, the default way to articulate the company’s purpose is through a statement. Ideally, one of the applications of having a statement is to help you make consistent and focused decisions every day. But let’s face it, it’s hardly the case.
In reality, limiting the expression of your purpose just to one short sentence is a dangerous approach.
One of the many drawbacks is that your team will tend to ignore that statement as it is not obvious how to use it in everyday actions and decisions. For instance, in the middle of a battle to win a contract, who cares about purpose anymore. It would help if we did use purpose as a guidepost, but at that moment, the statement is almost always a vague memory of what was agreed upon at the last all-hands meeting.
Therefore, you have to find other ways to revive and reframe why your organization matters constantly.
To do so, here is a possible and direct method:
- Get your team together in a meeting to work on a real business problem.
- Frame this working session with a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited goal.
- Invite a happy client/customer/user to join the meeting. Pick someone that has experienced your product or service in-depth and for a while.
- As an introduction exercise, ask your team to think about the most important reason why the company ultimately exists.
- Ask people to write their answer on a piece of paper so you limit biases.
- Then, ask people to share their answers. You will probably hear a variety of ideas. In a way, it’s normal since everyone makes sense of their individual contribution differently.
- Then, let your guest tell everyone why, based on their experience, your product or service matters so much right now.
- Visually capture on a whiteboard the conversation that follows.
- Watch how people align with their guest.
- Then move on to work together on the business problem you had initially targeted for the meeting.
This afternoon, we used that exact method on one of my projects.
I am doing my best to describe to you the steps that I used to facilitate this meeting. Of course, you had to be in the room to feel the energy and get some of the steps’ nuances.
The results were astonishing. We fixed a major piece of our sales process and reimagined the key elements of our go-to-market strategy at the moment. We even left with ideas to improve operations too.
I recognize that this isn’t very orthodox. However, do something like this, and you’ll create a true chance to take your narrative from theory to practice fully.
The power of this experience comes from replacing your static statement with the presence of a person who has lived the result of your impact and will tell you first hand what it feels like with their own words.
There is nothing more direct.