Times are always changing, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t in business has always been a challenging endeavor. Recently, however, the political climate and trends among consumers and brands have pointed pretty clearly at one important organizational strength: purpose.
Increasingly, both consumers and workers are more likely to associate with brands who follow an authentic purpose, and more likely to avoid brands that don’t. This search for responsibility and transparency has pushed many companies to rethink their mission statements and their commitment(s) to their values, and has made it clear that brands need to take this seriously if they want to keep a dedicated and inspired team on the payroll, as well as enthusiastic and loyal customers around. Simply recognizing that your organization needs to be aligned with purpose is one thing, however, and realizing that purposeful culture is another, often more difficult, thing. Let’s take a closer look at how to achieve this.
Before you even get to the organizational drawing board, it’s important to put things into perspective. What’s a good purpose for your brand to center? What is an authentic purpose? What isn’t? A useful thing to consider is infinity. Specifically, contrasting the finite mindset and the infinite mindset.
Business is often framed in finite terms—from finite business cycles to performance metrics and everything in between. The truth is that a true purpose transcends these finite limits necessarily. Your brand’s authentic purpose can’t be to do better next quarter because, whether or not you meet that goal, next quarter will come and go. What then? Your brand, and specifically your workers, need to be able to relate and commit to a purpose that will motivate the whole team to keep working hard day after day, not sure for the next few months or so.
The soul of a purposeful organization is infinite. Ambitions aren’t limited by finiteness; you, your brand, and your team can and need to work towards that authentic purpose continuously. As Simon Sinek explains, this isn’t just a pretty philosophy, it’s what long-term successful brands have in common.
Keeping True to Purpose
Identifying a good and compatible mission or purpose is an important part of the puzzle, but it isn’t everything. Making sure your organization is compatible with reflecting this purpose is just—if not even more—important.
Believe it or not, this divide is more than just a little bit common. According to Gallup data, only 27% of employees strongly agree that their organization always delivers on the promises it makes to customers. This can of course be bad for brand reputation and loyalty, but it can be even worse for workers looking to make sure their organization is aligned with their values.
Making sure this divide doesn’t form—or making sure it closes if it’s already there—is essential to designing a healthy and positive workplace environment, and to running a sustainable modern business model. By now, it might be clear that there are three fundamental entities to keep in mind when designing this purposeful organizational culture: the business structure, the workers, and the customers. These are all within the scope of which organs in your brand?
Bring Marketing and HR Together
To create a cohesive culture of authentic purpose for your brand, you need to bridge the gap between your customers’ experiences and your workers’ experience. How is this gap bridged? By making sure HR and marketing have the ability, capacity, and liberty to collaborate meaningfully.
CMO-CHRO communication is key to making sure this purpose becomes and remains an integral part of your organization, and not just a bunch of buzzwords that go on graphics and social media every once in a while. This collaboration can also help fit the manifestation of purpose to your specific organization. Incentives and performance metrics can and should be fitted with respect to this purpose, not so much to finite productivity goals.
In our personal, political, and professional endeavors, one thing holds true: it is not enough to believe in a purpose. In order to truly implement and live through that purpose, it’s important to take real and tangible action. In the case of your brand, that means committing to real structural and organizational change, and trusting the people best equipped to shape those changes to do their jobs. Between all of the nuances, great business boils down to three essential elements: a great team, a great organization, and a great mission.
Living Pono is dedicated to communicating business management concepts with Hawaiian values. Founded by Kevin May, an established and successful leader and mentor, Living Pono is your destination to learn about how to live your life righteously and how that can have positive effects in your career. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us here. Also, join our mailing list below, so you can be alerted when a new article is released.
Finally, consider following the Living Pono Podcast to listen to episodes about living righteously, business management concepts, and interviews with business leaders.