Many organizations believe they have a purpose at their core. I have experienced this as I have talked to leaders from a myriad of different organizations — both for-profit and not-for-profit. There is a common theme among all of them. They feeling like they could be doing more to realize the full potential of their Big Audacious Meaning. It’s the reason they inquire about purpose with me.
Another theme emerges as they begin to consider exploring the possibilities of their purpose. They all can’t help feel like it’s daunting.
They start voicing concerns about coordinating the top brass. They worry it will conflict with other initiatives currently underway.
There is a streamlined process that makes all this worry pretty much unfounded. But once a person forms that initial assumption that this must be arduous, it’s difficult to move them out of that mindset. And organizations that are at the point of doing something that could transform their success suddenly retreat.
This is an unmitigated loss. For the organization. And for everyone they could potentially serve.
Clarifying and adopting a purpose does not have to be some grand excursion reserved for only the most intrepid organizations or those with unlimited resources.
Purpose. One bite at a time.
There is a way to pursue a purpose without it overwhelming the organization. As the aphorism goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
We can start by building on what the organization has already identified. This could be ideas in the vision or mission statement. Or, it could be language in a motto the organization uses. It could even be as informal as language that just seems to continually surface in presentations, announcements, speeches, and more.
We can begin to prototype a purpose-driven message that we deliver to our team members and even our customers and prospects. We can gauge their receptivity to the message. We can then iterate on that message.
There is a unique advantage to this approach. It allows us to prototype and evolve a purpose-driven story. One that our team members and customers help us create. It alleviates the pressure of having to make it perfect right out of the gate. It embraces collaboration and evolution — two very positive and enticing qualities for any effort.
We can even share this message of collaboration with our team members and customers to help build ownership of the idea and stoke the excitement that will ignite a passion for the final form of our Big Audacious Meaning.
Bringing purpose into our brand and our story is one of the most energizing opportunities available to organizations today. If you’d like to learn about the process, drop me a line. Because the biggest roadblock may simply be finding a way to start. And prototyping a purpose could be the answer for your organization.
Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the forthcoming book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.