Developing A Shared Purpose

Why does your company exist?

While this may seem like an elementary question at first, more and more is being written about the importance and impact of having a clearly defined purpose for your company. It’s actually funny to hear some Owners and CEO’s try to answer this question, they tend to ramble.  When we take time to define our purpose, our reason for existing, we develop something bigger than any one person and much more powerful than the notion of simply existing to make money. “To make money” isn’t a purpose, it’s the result and goal of business.

We can share first had that the young, intelligent generation now entering the workforce is much more likely to seek out companies that have a purpose and a culture they can relate to. Our peers are much more engaged and productive in a company where they feel like they are a part of something greater than themselves. A clear purpose helps employees feel like they’re having an impact and making a difference – Not just another cattle in the corporate herd.

The very first meeting we had as a team at Oh! Social consisted of nothing more than defining our company’s purpose. We spent countless hours trying to answer that question: “WHY does Oh! Social exist?”

Oh! Social's Purpose

This was our opportunity to create a company the way WE wanted; One that WE could be proud of and would want to work for.  To do that correctly we had to start with “why.”

Using giant whiteboards and tools such as A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business by Nick Sarillo and Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle,” we were able to create a purpose statement that we are extremely proud of and can truly connect with. After dissecting the importance and relevance of each word in our original statement, it began transforming and materializing before our eyes. The thing about purpose, that we believe, is that it is not the same as a mission statement. The two are very different. Mission statements tend to explain WHAT the company does (take a look at Apple’s), not WHY it exists.

Here are some steps that will help you and your team develop a purpose statement that will lead to higher engagement, lower turnover, and lasting success.

Step one:
Take a few minutes to let each person on your team individually write down why they believe the company exists. This process allows for each person to bring something to the larger group and fosters teamwork at the same time.

Step two:
Bring the group together to discuss what everyone came up with. Try to find a common theme, one that everyone can agree on. Start developing a statement that best embodies what the TEAM believes is the reason behind the companies existence.

Step three:
Be specific! As hard as it may be, it’s important to be as clear as possible in the language. Some of the best purpose statements can say the most while saying the least (longer does not mean better). Look at each word very carefully. Maybe there’s a better word that conveys the message or maybe it doesn’t even need to be there at all.

Step four:
Inspire! While a purpose statement is a clearly defined reason for being, it should also inspire those that read it. Team members and customers alike should be able to connect with the purpose statement, and fully buy into it. With that kind of deep connection, the potential for success of the company will grow immensely.

Using this process, here is what we came up with:

“We create extraordinary experiences with connected and interactive communities to inspire the world – One smile at a time.”

If we asked you now “Why does your company exist?” What would you say? 

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