Co-Create Your Purpose

After last weeks post building your team’s purpose, it is now time to look at the steps you need to consider when engaging your team with Purpose (whether this be your Organization’s Why or your teams’ nested Why). To build momentum, a Co-Created approach will ensure that whilst you may not launch a ‘rocket’ you will release ‘ripples’ that permeate for sustainable impact. Stephen Scott Johnson states “Targeting stakeholders by numbers and without context is akin to launching a rocket with a faulty guidance system.
At go-live, the mission control tower observes the rocket as it blasts off into the stratosphere, anticipating and hoping like crazy that it will fly true and without incident towards its intended target.”

Surely this behaviour seems kind of insane?

As Stephen implores “A ripple is a people-powered system that continuously innovates and grows in congruence with its environment.
The main difference between a campaign (rocket) and a movement (ripple) is that people are invested emotionally in a movement. Building emotional connection starts small and builds over time.”

Your aim is to transition your staff, who have been active participants in building the elements of your Purpose to become card-carrying advocates as you embed your Purpose within your organization.

Internal participants will have heard and seen lots of communication over preceding months, shared their views through various discovery data collection exercises and are now waiting expectantly to see the final results from their investment to date.

It is a mistake to assume that they will immediately be excited and engaged. Like any significant organizational change, you will get best results with a well-planned set of co-created launch activities. As always, the quality and frequency of your communication will largely determine your success.

Please find the 7 steps that will amplify your Purpose led journey

You will most likely want to engage customers and external stakeholders in your new organizational Purpose. This is an important step in brand alignment and becomes a wonderful opportunity to deepen customer bonds and relationships.

However this should not be prioritized in favour of igniting the passion from within. Your staff and internal stakeholders are your champions and advocates and as the team at Fonterra stated “it is important they are given an opportunity to connect with your Purpose in a meaningful way.”

It may take time to communicate, engage and gain the buy in of your people. The investment you make during these early stages will be repaid many times over.

Ultimately, Purpose is about the contribution you now wish to make explicit within your organization. In launching your Purpose, storytelling will be enormously helpful in the engagement of your team. Your narrative will almost certainly involve stories, pictures and imagery.

Explaining the initial stimulus for pursuing organizational Purpose and how a discovery process supported that endeavor will provide context and rationale. The desire to express collective meaning and become a Purpose led organization is a compelling story, so it makes sense to do it justice.

Just like the ‘rocket vs ripple’ analogy, it is best to encourage the telling of day-to-day stories. It is the accumulation that will contribute to the overall narrative.

Opportunities for your CEO and leadership team to discuss what Purpose means to them are powerful ways of role modeling and conveying leadership commitment. The more forums you create throughout your organization, formally and informally, for the leadership team to get involved in discussions with staff and internal stakeholders, the better.

Your staff will also need time to make sense of Purpose for themselves. Encouraging them to meet in teams and in cross-functional forums provides opportunities to discuss, absorb and become connected with Purpose.

Whilst working with Heinz we got the core team to explore what Purpose meant to them and how it could be brought to life. This led to discussion on what they might start doing more of, or less of, in order to be better aligned with Purpose.

Engaging employees as advocates will take time. Whilst there will be many early adopters, it is likely that there will be skeptics and that you will meet resistance. Like any change project, it will require resolute leadership commitment, prolonged investment and perseverance.

There are limitless ways in which your organization can stimulate engagement with Purpose.

You get one shot so be creative and bold. Find ways that suit the inherent culture of the organization. Perhaps you might ask people or teams to express their understanding of Purpose through art, such as photographs or drawings. You might encourage teams to connect with other business units and discuss Purpose as a way of building collaboration. You might introduce lunchtime forums in which people from all parts of your organization can explore the application of Purpose within your business.

Major change initiatives within large organizations fail regularly. One of the most common reasons is a failure to communicate and engage employees effectively. Communication needs to be clear, regular and congruent.

Ensuring that you have a well-planned communication strategy that stays on message is a critical enabler of success.

As the team at Schweppes stated “you cannot over communicate during this engagement phase”.

Multiple mediums are available for you to connect with people in person, online and through social media. In time it will be important to embed Purpose within your organizational architecture, internal messaging and documentation. Well-designed imagery and audiovisual material is a powerful way of communicating and bringing your Purpose to life.

Push the boundaries, as you don’t want to be another company that spent the entire budget on ‘mouse pads and screen savers.’ A massive fanfare dwindles to the deployment of simple artifacts without any significant or meaningful cultural change. The natural cynicism that exists within many organizations is enhanced by this commonly repeated pattern.

Instead, ensure that the changes introduced are consistent with your long-term objective of embedding Purpose deeply within the culture of your organization; ensure it is done with respect, care and integrity. In return, your people will reward you many times over.

By now you have built excitement and commitment, included your people as active participants in a discovery process, defined your Purpose; and engaged your employees as advocates of your endeavor.

You are finally ready to begin embedding Purpose within the culture of your organization.

That will be the topic of next week’s newsletter.

“A movement happens when people talk to one another, when ideas spread within the community, and most of all, when peer support leads people to do what they always knew was the right thing.”
Seth Godin

Back to Blog

Get Mark's thought-provoking exploration straight into your inbox