A client of mine has an extraordinary systemized approach to his business. The owner, through his previous business, adopted the E-Myth systematic approach to documenting his business. In addition he has a zealous approach to detail at the operating level of his business. A recent hire, despite the meticulous training provided failed to completely understand the nature of their business, particularly the emotional satisfying elements that they offer customers. It’s lead them to re-examine their Core Purpose. Do they have a meaningful Core Purpose? How well is it communicated to staff and in the orientation process? Here’s some of the elements we are reviewing and why you may wish to examine why you need a solid Core Purpose:
If you’re like me you’ve worked for a number of companies in your career. Looking back at the companies I’ve worked for it’s easy to determine which had a core purpose and which didn’t. In fact I don’t recall any of the companies I worked for having one. That includes, I’m embarrassed to say, the company I was responsible for starting with 5 other partners twenty years ago. This despite the vision and intentions I had when we started the radio station, and despite one of my partners suggesting we follow the lead of Jim Collins in Built to Last.
The best company I worked for had an outstanding employee orientation process. I spent two weeks in training learning the policies and procedures, the company history, and actually serving in several support roles in the warehouse and administration to help me understand how the company functioned. Despite this excellent training, I never recall being told why the company existed.
Recently a good friend and former client of mine sent me a video link to a message by Nick Vujicic http://www.advancedhiring.com/blog/attitude-adjustment/. If you’ve not seen it I highly recommend it. In the video he quotes William Barclay, “There are two great days in a person's life -- the day we are born and the day we discover why.”
I you believe this is true for each of us as individuals, then why wouldn’t it be true for your business to have a why?
Of course if you’ve read Built to Last, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, then you know they’ve already discussed and established the importance of your business having a set of fundamental reasons for a company’s existence beyond just making money. They noted that a company continually pursues but never fully achieves or completes its purpose. As Walt Disney noted, “Disneyland will never be completed, as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
In Jim Stengel’s Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, Stengel not only emphasizes the importance of Core Purpose, or Brand Ideal as he calls it. He provides proof that “Doing well by doing good” is not only attainable, but the two are actually inseparable. The Stengel 50 (see chart) proves companies with a brand ideal perform nearly 400% better than those that don’t.
Stengel notes A Brand Ideal should at the fundamental level:
- Elicit joy
- Enable Connection
- Inspire Exploration
- Impact Society
- Evoke Pride
He also asks the following questions:
- Why are you in business?
- Does your company operate around a brand ideal? If not, did it ever? Don’t try to “invent” an ideal - a true brand ideal can’t be developed by a task force. But your company may have been founded on an ideal that will still be relevant once it’s unearthed.
- Consider your company’s heritage.
- What did your founders believe in? Why did they get into business?
- What need did they set out to address? Why do employees believe in what they do?
As noted in my introduction one of my clients recently hired a sales person, who met their diligent and stringent Topgrading standards. Yet she didn’t reachthe ultimate standards they expected in their 90 day probationary period. Her performance graded at average to good, yet they felt there was something missing. It was as if she failed to understand the compelling reason customers should choose their business and its proprietary system to solve their problems.
In several of our weekly meetings we discussed their sales process, sales standards, training system and the manager’s performance in holding this person accountable and to properly training them. We explored the Topgrading interview process and everything else to make sure there wasn’t an issue with the hiring and recruiting process. What did we miss?
Ultimately it was determined that for some reason this person didn’t have the deep conviction and emotional understanding of what the company delivered as a solution to the prospects problems. She would work the system effectively. When it came time to close she couldn’t answer to her prospects nor to the company’s team exactly why they should choose to move forward with them.
The Why is critical.
In my coaching discussions we’d spoke about the company having a mission statement, and each time the president felt secure that they had not only identified it through other strategic decisions (Strategy Statement, Inside Advantage, Brand Promise), but that there was no need to explore or identify this further.
For the first time he realized that perhaps they hadn’t effectively identified this to everyone, and particularly to new employees.
Why does your business exist?
Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States recognized this same vital element to business success that Jim Collins and Jerry Porras identified in Built to Last with these words, “..business needs a lifting purpose greater than the struggle for materialism.”
Another of my clients has identified their Core Purpose. Each leadership meeting they require their leadership team to answer a series of questions on the critical elements of their business including Core Values, Strategy Statement and Purpose. Their Core Purpose has become a tremendous source of pride and differentiation through their sales and marketing force. Each day they head out into the market with a significant degree of motivation inspired by their Core Purpose. It’s helped them to succeed in shaving significant market share from the national leader in their market for three consecutive years.
The subjective elements of the business are frequently overlooked when building your business. Yet these are often the most vital and compelling pieces to forge your business growth and competitive advantage in the market place. Don’t overlook them!