#2 How does a purpose-driven company look like

#GetQuared is a movement for those that want to bring meaning, belonging, growth to work. For those that see no trade-off in making companies more humane & productive.

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Purpose, the very first step

Our dream at Quared is to make every employee feel like an owner. And we have a step-by-step framework for it.

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And the first step towards shared ownership is a shared dream. A shared vision on why your company should exist and the change it intends to achieve. A shared purpose.

1| What does purpose really mean?

At Quared we are convinced that a company’s goal is not to make money. The goal is to solve a social need. To add value to consumers and society. And money is (always) the consequence of doing so (better than your competitors). The more value you add to their lives, the more money consumers will be willing to pay.

  • Microsoft empowers every person and organization to achieve more
  • Disney makes people, especially children, happy
  • Nike brings inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world


This is what purpose is. Your value proposition to the world.

Having a purpose Vs. Acting with purpose

Nike *has a very clear purpose (they solve a unique need). “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. You watch a Nike video, and you immediately want to get out of your sofa. You put on a pair of Nike shoes, and you feel like running.

 

However, you might question if Nike *acts with purpose (being a responsible citizen). They promote a model of hyper consumption, they had issues in their supply chain… Truth be told, they are now taking serious steps to act, consistently, with purpose.

 

Macklemore puts it better. Nike & WING$

“Companies are communities of people that together solve a problem (have a purpose) without creating additional ones (act with purpose)”.

 

And, yes, of course, your employees (not only millennials) want to work for a company that *Has and *Acts with purpose.

 

In short, the world is changing and so do you. «From Being the best IN the world to being the best FOR the world”.

2| How to become a truly purpose-driven company?

Forget mission and vision

Nobody ever understood the difference between mission and vision. How do you want to see the company 10 years from now? What you do? Who you do it for? Unnecessary complexity.

 

All an organization needs is to:

  • Figure out your unique value proposition to society.
  • Engage employees through impact.

Figure out your unique value proposition

Think Decathlon. And think why do buy at Decathlon?

 

We call this elements of value. And from those, you craft your purpose. Decathlon’s purpose: “Make sport accessible to the many”. How? Low price + Quality + Innovation + All sports. Consistency.

 

In short, ask yourself: What do I uniquely provide to my consumers? Why would consumers care if my company disappears tomorrow?

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Once the value proposition is clear, you can define your core capabilities. Ask yourself: What do I need to be great at to be the best company in the world at delivering my value proposition? For Decathlon, they need to create the most efficient supply chain and be great at innovation (how do you get such la combination of low price & quality otherwise?). Marketing? Not so relevant.

 

And from there, time to define your strategic actions. Ask yourself: What actions make my value proposition and core capabilities stronger? Leverage the power of the flywheel.

 

Deep topics that we will touch in the following Quared Masterclasses.

Focus on the need that doesn’t change

In the hyper-competitive, digitally-enabled fast-changing world, you must understand the core consumer need you are solving for.

 

In Jeff Bezos words: “I very frequently get the question: What’s going to change in the next 10 years? And that is a very interesting question. I almost never get the question: «What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?» And that that second question is actually the more important of the two – because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection”.

 

If only Nokia knew. They started with a simple yet lasting purpose that build tremendous value for them (5Bn$ in 7 years) and society. A simple need that won’t change: “Nokia. Connecting People”. As with many unfortunate businesses ventures, they forgot about it and they instead did something like “Nokia. Making smaller phones”.

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In the hyper-competitive, digitally-enabled fast-changing world, you must understand the core consumer need you are solving for.

 

In Jeff Bezos words: “I very frequently get the question: What’s going to change in the next 10 years? And that is a very interesting question. I almost never get the question: «What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?» And that that second question is actually the more important of the two – because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection”.

 

If only Nokia knew. They started with a simple yet lasting purpose that build tremendous value for them (5Bn$ in 7 years) and society. A simple need that won’t change: “Nokia. Connecting People”. As with many unfortunate businesses ventures, they forgot about it and they instead did something like “Nokia. Making smaller phones”.

Engage employees through impact. BHAGs and Manifestos

BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Bill Gates coined the most famous one ever. When starting Microsoft, he “BigHairyAudaciously” said: “One computer, at every desk, at every home”.

 

Although this is not the finest way to define your purpose (i.e., focused on the product, not on the consumer need)setting a “game-changing” purpose always helps visualize the dream & engage your community. Other great examples include Ford’s “Democratize the Automobile” or SpaceX “Bring people to Mars”.

 

If having such a sexy & short sentence is not for you, lay out a Manifesto. The same revolution under a different format. Check Danone’s Alimentation Revolution.

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And if you can place a specific and measurable target, bonus points. Check the Africa Leadership Group. Their BHAG purpose? Transform Africa by building 3 million leaders.

 

In short, demonstrate change. Nobody wants to work for a company that aims to keep the status quo.

2| How do you define your purpose in a strategic yet engaging way?

“Purpose is built, not found”. Built by each and every one of your employees in their day-to-day actions. Purpose is a (new)habit the organization needs to acquire. It’s an internal victory that eventually becomes an external victory.

 

Think Disney and their theme parks. Their purpose? Make people happy. How will they achieve that? By ensuring that every single theme park employee wants to make people happy. From the actors in the shows to the people selling you tickets to Mickey Mouse. Each of them has something to say (smile) to make their purpose real. Each interaction with the customer matters.

 

Your organization is no different. “You are what you repeatedly do”.

 

So the question becomes: How do you build such a habit? Habits are a product of repetition and emotional connection. Want to quit smoking? Either somebody close to you gets lung cancer (emotion) or you visualize smoking kills every day (repetition).

Emotional connection is a by-product of two feelings:

  • “I work for something bigger than myself”
  • “I am a key piece of my organizational purpose”

 

Remember the story of the NASA cleaner. Build on these 2 emotions at every step of your employee experience.

Repetition will be achieved when you place your purpose at every step of your employee experience.

We call it 1.000 things, 1.000 times.

 

We’ll leverage Quared framework for it (we’ll dig deeper on the relevance of purpose in all those elements in the following Quared Masterclasses).

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  • Values & Capabilities: Define your values & core capabilities on the basis of your purpose. Nike’s purpose is to “Inspire & innovate for every athlete in the world”. What values do they need to succeed? For starters, if you want to innovate you might want to “Challenge the Status Quo”. What capabilities do they need? Nobody inspires better than “Star athletes”. Their core capability? Signing the biggest stars in the world. Again, consistency.

 

  • Employer branding: Create an employer brand around your purpose. Leverage it in your career page and along your recruiting channels. In a sexy way. Please.
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  • Predictive & Relational Hiring: Hire those that share your wild, game-changing dreams. We call it purpose-fit. If you have a great candidate that does not share the dream, it’s fine. Build the dream. On-board and align her through PKR’s Purpose and Key results: Make sure she defines her own purpose (connected to your company’s purpose) and the KPI’s that will guarantee your purposeful success.

 

  • Emergent leadershipThe most important step. Your leaders must inspire their teams on your purpose. If they fail to do so, forget the rest. And getting your leaders to do so is tough. It requires a big habit change. From communicating financial results and micromanaging (i.e., telling employees “what to do”) to communicating impact and macromanaging (i.e., guiding employees on “why they do what they do”). Inspire, train, coach, mentor. And then, inspire, train, coach and mentor again. Don’t underestimate this one.
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  • Impact communication: Reset success. Your success is no longer only about Net Sales & Profit growth. It’s about societal impact. Communicate as such. Touch the minds (i.e., how your business is performing better) and the hearts (i.e., how you are making the world a better place). Communicate purpose-related metrics and purpose-related milestones. Build sense of progress to drive confidence (there’s always sceptical ones ready to criticize). Explain employee-related success stories. Remember people only remember stories. Use videos and make sure your CEO is not only on-board but your biggest sponsor. Make her very visible and vocal.

 

In short, make sure your purpose is present at every step of the employee journey. 1.000 things, 1.000 times.

We discussed all of the above in our last Quared Masterclass!

Want to dig deeper?

“Shared Value” by Michael Porter

The only sustainable way to change the world is through companies. And companies do well by doing good. Listen to Michael Porter in this eye opening TED Talk.

“The anti-CEO playbook” by Hamdi Ulukaya

Want to know what can happen if you prioritize people over profits? You might become US yogurts market leader. Check out Chobani’s story!

“Man’s search for meaning” by Victor Frankl

As with corporations, humans are fated to find their own purpose. One of Quared’s favourite books.

“Make a life, not a living”
Alex, Miquel & Toni

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