The Process To Discover Purpose
One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from purpose curious companies is how long will it take to find it. Our findings are clear: there is no single path. In fact, the best way to explain the pattern we found is to bring it to a human relationship level.
Let’s take a short detour. Bear with us – this is an important self exploration exercise that allows the opportunity to reflect on the magnitude and potential world-changing outcome of this entire journey. Remember, it is not about just you, whether you are a marketing manager or the CEO, it is about everyone you touch, from your internal team and your community and subsequently the planet.
By picking up this book and allowing yourself the freedom and the opportunity to be curious, you have accepted the responsibility. You are the champion of purpose. The road ahead is not easy or clear; it is not a task assigned and completed. It is an epic road of transformation. If successful, you will move mountains and change lives in the process.
Now, let’s reflect on a time in your life you felt most passionate. Let’s talk about falling in love. It doesn’t have to be romantic. In fact, it could be love for your sibling, child or pet. Perhaps it is a special connection you feel for your religion, politics or a cause. Or it may be your bond with creative endeavors or the zone you enter when you are working on your hobby.
It’s that moment when your heart is racing and goose bumps are forming – a feeling that transforms your state of mind and allows for your best self to shine freely. That moment you don’t think about yourself and allow your thoughts to rest kindly on the object of your passion.
That is a special feeling. It doesn’t happen when you meet “any” person or engage in “any” activity. It happens only when there is a real and genuine connection. And it is truly remarkable.
The Science of Story started as an exploration of the unknown, uncharted territory, but with continued openness to embrace our discoveries. Our search for the “right stories” led us to the inevitable but fully logical question: what is the source? The stories you share are as good as your organization’s soul. Soulless brands will drift with storytelling and will continuously look to pivot based on what their customers want to read. Rather than pave the road, these brands will follow the masses for signs of being relevant and shapeshift endlessly to fit in.
The journey to find an organization’s essence can be accidental. Perhaps someone in the team shares a tweet and it rallies the entire ecosystem. But that is not the norm. Most companies follow a process to harness the many opinions of their worlds. It is often a hard journey that requires real feelings to come out; a journey that challenges the organization to rise above clichés and endless sales cycles. It is a journey of awakening. The average cycle depends heavily on multiple variables:
Now, some good news. Most companies who truly embark on the purpose transformation by allocating necessary mindshare and empowering the process find what they seek. It may not be perfect the first time around, and that’s ok.
In fact, iteration may be the new perfect.
How do we start? That’s a great question. In fact, our research shows that those who simply have the courage and curiosity to ask this question will succeed.
We believe that putting together a team to lead the efforts is step one. “Inspired Purpose Champions” (IPC) will facilitate the process from nurturing feedback, establishing organization wide buy-in to radiating throughout the organization. For the time being, IPC will become the temporary heart of the organization until the Purpose Thesis is developed.
IPC —–> Purpose Thesis —–> Validate or Iterate —–> Purpose
Let’s discuss IPC selection and characteristic process:
Purpose discussions require an elevated, almost transcended, state of mind. Remember when our parents said, “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up”? We didn’t have context at the time to understand the power and unlimited possibilities of this question. We do now. How epic is this feeling? Your organization is about to find the real reason for its existence, and through a domino effect, the energy will propagate through every cell of the organism and ecosystem.
Purpose Jams are for internal stakeholders only. Ideally, the majority of the organization would go through the process and the results would be documented and cataloged for inspiration toward a Purpose Thesis. Crowd-sourced purposes will have the highest chance of enduring and the lowest amount of iterating.
Where is the connection between individual purpose and organizational purpose? How does an individual decide if they belong in the organization? We believe there should be a strong connection between a person’s and organization’s reason for being. This is what forms the bonds of unity in a team. Once an organization finds and communicates its purpose internally, the following are become more likely:
The IPC team should conduct a Purpose Jam and once they understand the process, IPC individual members would benefit from conducting Purpose Jams throughout the organization. Here is the suggested overview designed to inspire the facilitation of the Purpose Jam:
Sharing this insight will help everyone in the room to reflect on the difference between having greater purpose and not having it. Without a reason for being, that expands beyond your organization’s walls, you will likely focus your attention on your everyday experiences at work. There is nothing wrong with that. During the industrial revolution, even this focus would have seemed out of reach. However, we don’t think that settling for this inward focus reaches the ultimate and transcendent state that unifies and ignites the type of inertia that is capable of changing the world.
The output of the Purpose Jam will include individual Why’s and a brainstorm toward the organization’s Purpose Thesis. The results of each session should be consolidated by IPC into a master document such as a mindmap that is all inclusive. Ideally, these sessions would be conducted across the organization and results will include insights that represent the majority of the organization.
In addition to having the possibility of getting to the answer through this team-sourced process, the inclusion in the process itself and the participation in each session begins to build ownership of the vision. Every team member will leave the session feeling uplifted and in deep reflection of their own meaning and company’s purpose.
IPC members should exhibit boldness to take a leap of faith and begin to explore different patterns as thesis candidates establish a “purpose thesis.” It is much easier to examine an existing option than to start the meeting with a blank canvas. We recommend beginning a journal to document ideas and reasons for pivots as you embark on the most important journey of your brand.
Once the top thesis candidates are identified, it is time to share them and see how they resonate with more team members. In our experience, presenting a Simple, Genuine and Aspirational purpose without a story that’s inspired is incomplete. Your audience will not have the context or the anchors to fully appreciate the vision. Best practice would include preparing a one-minute elevator pitch accompanied by visual, design or video, to deliver the vision of suggesting greater purpose. You are now ready to put your thesis to the test and take the next step: validate or pivot.
Kevin Bugielski is the Marketing Manager for Victory Lap, a purpose-driven startup changing the sales game. Avid Snapchatter, SoulCycle lover, newfound runner, but ultimately, a foodie.