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the purpose cascades part i: purpose & culture

written by mike freedman


purpose

we all welcome meaning in our lives especially in the work we do. meaning that gives us the will to be our best. yet for ‘meaning’ to mean something, it needs to flow through into the every day, into the every minute & moment. a shared purpose is the inexhaustible source. the ‘purpose cascades’ show how purpose can: • flow through culture • fill a brand with meaning • have a positive impact on people, planet & prosperity

this is part i – purpose & culture... distilled from processes we facilitate in public & private sectors

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in search of meaning pieter runs a successful company, listed on the stock exchange. he is about to celebrate his son’s first birthday. i asked him “when your son enquires, in 18 or 20 years time, what are you most proud of in your career? what would you like to tell him?” he thought for a little. “will you say it’s the rising share price?” he didn’t take long to say no. that’s important to him & a vital sign of success in the business world, but he wants to tell his son something more he wants to tell his son that he made a difference, a positive difference, in people’s lives.

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how purpose flows to culture ‘purpose’ is the why,

for individuals & organisations pgs 4-9

‘values’ are the how pgs 10-15 ‘visionary leadership’ defines the what pgs 16-22

(mission) is in brackets, because the ones

that work best have an embedded purpose pgs 23-24

‘rewards’ are the measure pgs 25-29 ‘stories’ are feedback pgs 30-31 everything flows from purpose

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dings & ripples i just want to make a ding in the universe. steve jobs the fact that you can only do a little is no excuse for doing nothing. john le carre, a most wanted man while very few make apple-sized dings, we can all make ripples in the universe. they flow to make waves, currents & cross-currents that shape the future. what distinguishes these ripples from turbulence, is a consistent sense of purpose, allied with the energy & ability to follow your star. purpose gives us direction. in an aligned organisation, the quest for purpose reflects on our deepest needs as well as the essential nature of an enterprise. it embraces knowing that to be our best, we need others wanting to be their best, too. most of all, shared purpose gives us a common passion to achieve & somehow make our world a better, more fascinating place to be. purpose binds us together more powerfully, more sustainably than speeches, punishments & rewards. it is made manifest when it flows with gathering force to everyday action.

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if you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. antoine de saint-exupery


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the purpose of purpose your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. don’t settle. -steve jobs-

purpose needs passion & ability to manifest. for individuals, loving what you do is as vital as being good at it. for organisations, hiring & nourishing people with the passion & ability to pursue purpose is the foundation of success. profit comes in compensation for contribution to society. profit is a yardstick with which to measure the degree of social contribution made by an enterprise. if the enterprise tries to earn a reasonable profit but fails to do so, the reason is because the degree of its social contribution is still insufficient. konosuke matsushita companies deliver products & services we want & need; governments are there to protect us & promote our interests; non-profits support the most vulnerable. we are contributors to & beneficiaries of an intertwined network. we can also be victims of this network as wants & needs come into conflict. for instance, we want to pay as little as possible for our energy, even if this means burning our birthright with fossil fuels. a deep understanding of purpose helps to resolve these trade-offs. the petroleum company that has as its purpose to keep the world moving will be obliged to seriously investigate newer, more efficient ways to fulfil its purpose. this will accelerate the development of new opportunities. organisations have vision & values on their website & elsewhere; some live them better than others. yet few can articulate their purpose - & those few tend to have a culture so thick, you can feel it.

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the product that gave birth to an empire konosuke matsushita’s first job was in a bicycle shop. at that time, if you rode a bicycle at night in japan, you used a candle or a battery powered light that was soon exhausted; fatalities escalated. matsushita designed a bicycle light that would last for seven hours. and so with this social contribution, the empire of jvc & panasonic was born.


purpose

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the great terminology muddle soft stuff also has soft definitions; no e=mc2 here. this is how we explained the words & concepts to a client who had just been through a vision, mission & values process with a consultant, then gave a collective sigh when we asked about their purpose. their ‘why’

vision is a snapshot of the future - your corporate ambition what you want to become. it flows from purpose & leadership. values define how you treat each-other, your customers & suppliers, how you make & carry out decisions. they emphasise the behaviour that will manifest your purpose. a mission statement describes what you do, who you do it for, the value you add. purpose simply answers the most fundamental questions of all

»» why do you exist? »» why will the world be a different place because of you? think of a shared journey the vision is directional, the mission is practical, values chart how you treat others along the way. purpose is the shared meaning that makes it all worthwhile profit comes in compensation for contribution to society

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how to answer the why

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to organize the world’s information & make it universally accessible & useful - google -

a deep & driving sense of purpose is contained in a sentence. a purpose defines you, as you define it. and each answers why – why google, why walmart, why nike, why southwest. barclays was founded by quakers who, with their beliefs & practice, put ethics & integrity first. the bank lost its way. the new leadership recalled the founding beliefs & crafted this purpose

to bring inspiration & innovation to every athlete in the world - nike -

“helping people achieve their ambitions – in the right way” barclays it is spreading through the organisation like a hope virus. the world will be watching. reputations are not as precious as a ming vase. you can restore them over time. a shared purpose is a good place to start.

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to give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people - walmart -

we democratise the skies and give people the freedom to fly - southwest airlines -


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can all organisations have an ennobling purpose? a pharmaceutical company or anti-poverty ngo can talk about saving lives, a tobacco company cannot. most organisations fall somewhere between the two. unilever is a good example. in the late 19th century, the co-founder of lever brothers wrote why they were bringing sunlight soap to the market:

(so why am i saying this is unilever’s purpose, while the company says it is their mission? because the purpose is embedded. “…to add vitality to life” answers why. the rest shows the strategic goals & direction. unilever needs to live those five words in everything they do, even if the mission part is modified.)

to make cleanliness commonplace; to lessen work for women; to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness, that life may be more enjoyable and rewarding for the people who use our products. william hesketh lever

nestle has developed its “business principles” based on the philosophy of “creating shared value” across all networks of value chains. channels to action have been identified, training is ongoing, early victories are communicated. focus is on how to change existing win-lose outcomes – good for customers & company, not so good for society or environment. three words develops their sense of connectedness to the world around them

today, in a time that recognises housework as tending to gender neutral, with unilever having a few hundred brands around the world from toothpaste to ice-cream, the words have changed, while the underlying purpose has not: our mission is to add vitality to life. we meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene & personal care with brands that help people look good, feel good and get more out of life. 08 the purpose cascades purpose & culture

with the introduction of ‘vitality to life’, unilever changed from a solid blue ‘u’ to one made up of icons of sustainability. the logo embeds the purpose.


purpose

what about a tobacco company? or a coal-mine? a useful concept to consider is ‘balanced morality’. corporates are neither mother theresa, nor gengis khan.

we facilitated a business-sponsored initiative for urban revitalisation, that was partially paid for by a tobacco company. one can argue that direct harm outweighs potential good, yet there is good coming from fields this tobacco company ploughs, from biodiversity to civics. is it enough? probably not. we’re all on a journey. a brief for a tobacco company purpose… maximise good, minimise harm, to find balanced morality. from individuals to multi-nationals, we all need to find our sense of purpose. some discover it earlier than others. sometimes it gets lost along the way. often it evolves. working takes up so much of our lives. if all those hours have no meaning beyond the pay-check, we will never fulfil our potential. nor will the organisation

if you’re not thinking all the time about making every person more valuable, you don’t have a chance what’s the alternative? wasted minds? uninvolved people? a labour force that’s angry or bored? that doesn’t make sense. jack welch

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values - defining the how facilitating a workshop on culture & brand for an excom, we asked participants what their corporate values were. to a man they pulled out a laminated card from their top pockets (the one woman from her bag). they showed us the cards, proof that box had been ticked. we see values on websites, in receptions, even on the way to the toilet. to be more than wallpaper, values need to be seen & heard guiding strategic & daily decisions. they flow from purpose, like a river from the source. as purpose is ‘why’, so values are ‘how’. they are your culture guides. values are safe spaces for dangerous conversations. they allow the unsaid to be said.

tesco’s purpose & values tesco, once a second-rate supermarket chain in the uk & in quality perceptions sainsbury’s poor relation, is now the world’s second largest retailer, after walmart, as measured by profits. it is driven by a shared purpose & three values however, discounters like aldi are taking chunks out of tesco’s business & profits. leadership is under the spotlight. will tesco’s purpose & values shine through? as nietzche said, if it doesn’t kill you, it will only make you stronger

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purpose we make what matters better, together this is how their website explains the meaning: “our core purpose needs to reflect how much society has changed in recent years – more scepticism about corporations, more desire to see business demonstrate it has a purpose beyond profit, a sense that large companies should be contributing more to tackling some of the big challenges.

the world has changed from a culture of ‘more is better’ to ‘making what matters better’. …this profound shift in society must be reflected in the way we think and behave as a business” values »» no-one tries harder for customers »» we treat everyone how we like to be treated »» we use our scale for good


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when we facilitate values, we do our level best to: • crystallise between two & four defining values • find your words • initiate ways to operationalise

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1. crystallise between two

& four defining values

values generation usually includes a spirited debate about whether to feature the value of ‘integrity’. if all ‘integrity’ says is we must not be crooks, it is not over-helpful. if integrity reflects on the deeper meaning of being whole & undivided, it illuminates a directional way of being. each value must channel purpose to action the more values you have, the less they will be honoured. one large financial services group has accumulated as many values as the old testament has commandments, they have cultural transformation teams working throughout the organisation, but when you talk to employees you realise for many the values have become more of a memory test, than a guide to everyday decisions & relationships. the more values that exist, the more divisive they become. i will use one value to support my case, you will use another. noordstrom managed with one; investec shrank theirs from eight to four. with values more is less

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for years, the nordstrom employee handbook was this single 12x20cm grey card


purpose

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2. find your words

3. initiate ways to

»» challenge the now »» make it simple they encourage, acknowledge & reward specific behaviour

what do the values mean to hr, marketing, leadership? how are they made manifest? how can they be used to relieve unhealthy tensions? if values espoused are in conflict with values practised, this lip-service may come from a flawed hierarchy of rewards

two of four values for healthbridge, a south african company on the cusp of information & health, are

the suntory group make whiskey & health drinks, grow flowers, & have built a magnificent opera house in tokyo. they have three values: »» yatte minahare - go for it »» sharing the profit with society »» coexisting with nature they flow from their group ‘mission’ (in essence, the purpose) of »» in harmony with people & nature from blending whiskey to blending operatic voices, harmony is key to all suntory does.

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operationalise

what counts for more in your organisation? some evaluations score up to 90% for performance, 10% for culture. the unintended consequence encourages selfishness & divisions that place me before us & us before you. a 50/50 split is uncomfortable for many as culture is harder to measure than numbers generated by performance. but what cannot be measured is at least as meaningful as what can be. together they have the most meaning

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stress-testing your values values are a long-term commitment. so once you have formulated them, see how compatible they are with your organisation, before you say ‘we do’. find out if they become safe spaces for dangerous conversations, or temporary band-aids to cover deep wounds. here are three stress-tests that give your values a good work-out.

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1. stop, start, re-enforce participants – initially ceo & three to five trusted advisors. the advisors each reflect on the behaviour of the ceo, with a focus on what she should stop, start & re-enforce, according to agreed values. each speaks & the ceo notes their observations, only asking questions of clarity until they have all finished. the ceo then summarises what she has heard, then commits to change, or in some cases asks for a ‘pass’ on a specific piece of behaviour. her summary becomes her behaviour check-list, that can be peer reviewed six months later. after the ceo, each participant becomes the focus. if all that needed to be said was said, understood & accepted (or nearly all, trust takes time to build), the values hold up & similar processes can permeate the organisation. a successful professional services company agreed that one of its values would be ‘life-balance’. in the stress test the ceo was told by his inner circle that he was the greatest transgressor. although not asking & not expecting others to work an 18 hour day, that’s what he did. the ceo said he was made that way & asked for a ‘pass’. he was given six months to become less lopsided. he cut down to a mere 14-hour workday, became less grumpy, the company thrived & employees saw that values were the boss.

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2. lifting up the carpet many organisations, even individuals, need large carpets to cover everything that is swept under them. the problem is, what is swept under festers, becoming a health hazard. values, if effective, are the bristles of the broom that sweeps clean. as a test, choose issues that have festered for some time. bring the involved parties together & invite them to seek resolution through your shared values. it may be that one party uses a particular value to support their case, while an opposing party chooses another value to support theirs. if there is deadlock, a reference back to purpose should break it. if not, re-evaluate your set of values‌ perhaps even your purpose.

no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it albert einstein

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3. a value isn’t worth anything

until it costs you

values are often known as ‘the soft stuff’. companies that live by them have a different opinion. it was the great financial meltdown of 2008, the asset management industry was reeling. the second largest private client of one company stormed in, demanding to see the ceo. ‘do you have an appointment?’ the receptionist asked & received a torrent of abuse. ‘because he is in a meeting’ she continued & received more abuse that was increasingly personal, reducing her to tears. a staff member passing reception, backtracked to the ceo’s meeting. the ceo led the client outside & said ‘as of now you are no longer a client of our company’. the story spread inside the organisation , pride & certainty were restored. because in a moment the ceo demonstrated the value he put on the value of respect. pleased to report, the company is now doing better than ever before.

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visionary - leadership i am proud to say that i never planted a tree, nor ever chopped one down. retiring dean of a 500-year old oxford college there are leaders who are maintainers, those who are tinkerers, & the brave souls, who are levers of change. visionary leaders see a future that may draw on the past & present, yet differs from them, sometimes radically so.

to break writer’s block, here is the first line.

when vision statements are corporate chestthumps – we will be the biggest, the best, the most profitable, the most awesome – they lose the essence of what a vision means.

write without giving your writing too much thought. you know the context, whether you’re the leader of a corporation or a leader of yourself

a vision is a picture of something that isn’t there, yet could be. a picture needs its brushes & here are four: a good pen a good notebook a good hat a good glass of wine/fruit juice/water

what, who, where, why, how, when in any order you like. there’s a time later to edit & refine. neither build empires on sand, nor stick your neck in it. you are visualising how your purpose will manifest, given your most informed view of how the world around you is changing.

pen and notebook give a sense of occasion & intimacy; but if it’s tablet or nothing, digital will do. the hat is recommended for somewhere in the open air. the glass is your timer. when it is drunk, you are done. 16 the purpose cascades purpose & culture

it is (a date five, seven, ten, twenty or thirty years in the future) & we are… note the ‘are’, not ‘will be’. while ‘we’ is often ‘i’.

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the non-visionary visionary lou gerstner of ibm saw computer hardware becoming increasingly margin-stressed & changed big blue from big iron to integrated solutions for our ‘small planet’. now consultants could recommend non-ibm hardware. their focus was to supply all of a customer’s it needs, on an ongoing basis, in a rapidly changing technological world. he also slashed the price of ibm mainframes, the erstwhile corporate cash-cow & holy cow. cortes burnt his ships

gerstner told the press soon after he became ceo that “the last thing ibm needs right now is a vision”. big blue was bleeding red ink & had just endured the biggest corporate loss for a single financial year. the company was poised to break itself up into smaller units that would compete directly with the new lean tribes of competitors. gerstner started by cutting deeply into the fat ibm had accumulated, then set about changing the culture from its imperious past to total customer service.

we would redefine ibm and its priorities starting with the customer. customers were not asking for fancy corporate restructuring, they needed trusted, seamless solutions. gerstner later said that the last thing he wanted to do was spell out a vision that the industry could latch on to. perhaps his vision was a slow conversion rather than a damascene moment. visions do not need a blast of trumpets to announce them; they do need commitment & bravery. gerstner was no wild-eyed prophet; he rebuilt ibm, following the blueprint he designed & modified as he went along. the revolution he created shows that with brave, committed leadership, giants can dance.

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ibm is ‘building a smarter planet’. the current iteration of the vision by nonvisionary lou gerstner


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how leaders can lead analysing our engagements with leaders & soaking in the wisdom of others, we see four themes 1. clear & curious 2. compassionate detachment 3. courage & humour 4. relentless communication

1. clear & curious clear at the core, curious about the future margaret wheatley & myron kellner-rogers “a simpler way”. the core is your purpose, to be communicated with steadfast clarity. the future embraces global challenges, new technologies, local issues & internal aspirations . curiosity keeps leaders in touch with what is & what can be. it is curiosity with a purpose – how can you continue to strengthen & protect the core?

without curiosity we will never progress.

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2. compassionate & detached this comes from the tao te ching, an ancient chinese manual for leadership. compassion needs deep understanding of those who are & who are not close to you. you attempt to walk a few miles in their shoes. then you need to synthesise all these walking miles – what is the greater good? detachment is knowing that the pursuit of the greater good needs decisions that can & do cause harm to some. winston churchill, bred in the bone a british patriot, knew in advance through code intercepts that coventry was about to endure fearful bombing, yet he did not warn the inhabitants. if the enemy had known their code was compromised they would have changed it, potentially causing greater loss of life. sometimes for leaders the judgment call is the lesser of two evils – when one is immediate & indisputable, the other less immediate, less certain, yet potentially worse. far less on the traumatic scale, a ceo sanctions retrenchments to keep the company in business. that’s detachment. compassion was being true to purpose & values. the process was transparent, the packages were good, authentic assistance was given. 95% were re-employed within three months. some years later, the ceo told me their purpose & values became entrenched in their culture when the company was at its lowest ebb.

making the right call, even when you cannot know for sure the call is right, needs compassionate detachment.

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3. courage & humour great leaders make hard decisions & see things through, facing the difficulties as they come. it took courage for jack welch to sell the ge lighting business that thomas edison created as the bedrock of general electric. his early decision to sell off or close down underperforming units earned him the title of neutron jack, after the bomb that is supposed to wipe out people while keeping buildings in one piece. only then could he rebuild. it took courage for lou gerstner to change ibm from big iron to big solutions. in the ‘art of war”, sun tzu says of a leader’s qualities, the prime is courage. this is far deeper than risking one’s life in battle; it is the courage to be wrong, while everyone’s watching. so far, so perfect – but too far out there for most of us to have much empathy. humour is the most under-rated quality for a leader. manfred kets de vries, a psychoanalyst and professor of leadership at insead has a 4h leadership recipe: hope, humanity, humility, and humour. the fourth quality may at first glance seem out of place. no-one wants to be led by a clown. but a highly tuned sense of the ridiculous stops leaders taking it all - and most of all themselves too seriously. when tony leon was head of the opposition party to the anc in south africa, he responded to mandela’s claim that the da was a mickey mouse organisation, with the taunt that the president was running a goofy government. soon after leon was admitted to hospital for open heart surgery & the night before the operation, there was a knock on the door & the familiar voice of president mandela said:

“hello mickey mouse, this is goofy. may i come in?” 20 the purpose cascades purpose & culture

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4. relentless communication i was having one of those take-a-deep-breath discussions with a retail chief executive. “i understand your focus on the weekly sales figures, i said, but you need balance. your people have no sense of vision, no shared purpose, no lived by values “of course we have, we’ve done all that stuff” he said with unconcealed irritation. i realised i had burnt my boats, so with little left to lose: “well, i don’t see it” i replied “and i’ve looked”. “well you looked in the wrong place” he said, there it is.” he pointed over my shoulder to a filing cabinet, “in my personal files”. this was a time when it was still fashionable for chief executives to think of computers as glorified typewriters for secretaries. nowadays all that stuff would be stored in his sub-directory. and maybe in an annual report.

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purpose & visions aren’t much good if no-one knows about them. jack smith, reflecting on his short, unspectacular time at the helm of gm said: “in retrospect, the one thing i wish i did was to communicate more.” when jack welch was asked about his three most important duties as ceo of ge, he answered “communicate, communicate, communicate”. communication starts with the human touch. the head of investec bank, jacket off, tie askew, takes a break from an exhausting meeting, bumps into a long-term administrative employee by the lift, drapes his hand over the big guy’s shoulder and asks “howsit my brother?”. the founder of edgars group, rewarded extra effort with half a sack of potatoes, that he handpicked from his farm & delivered to the surprised employee’s desk. david ogilvy sent daily handwritten memos about campaigns, the philosophy and skills of advertising, to recipients around the ogilvy world. many written on notepaper headed “do” are now treasured artefacts. ogilvy also wrote books on advertising, many articles, and gave influential talks around the world. there have been other great advertising minds - perhaps quite a few greater - but none communicated better. bill gates, who is probably one of the world’s busiest men, also found time while running microsoft, to co-author a few books & write regular articles answering readers’ questions. steve jobs was a great showman who commanded the big stage. raymond ackerman would make the humblest pick n pay employee feel important. all seek to communicate in the best ways they can and this seems to be the message - find the way you feel most comfortable to communicate - then do it, imaginatively and relentlessly. visions left in the filing cabinets of the mind go nowhere.

good leaders inspire teams to have confidence in their leadership; great leaders inspire team members to have confidence in themselves. from wells fargo vision & values

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(mission) (sometimes a mission is more like a purpose, sometimes more like a vision. no public company can be without one, yet in our experience, most mission statements become a tick-box for directors & analysts, hardly known by staff. that’s why the brackets.)

it’s worth starting with some definitions.

a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organisation, or individual. oxford dictionary a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus. the business dictionary mission is the character, identity & reason for existence of an organisation. it can be divided into four parts; purpose, strategy, values & behaviour standards. the economist if you’re confused – don’t worry, you’re in good company.

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the original disney mission:

make people happy sounds more like a purpose. it is lean, sharp, memorable & motivating. it was replaced by this: to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world maybe the share analysts like it, especially the most…profitable…in the world – but it is nowhere near a purpose. partly vision, partly goals on the way to the promised land, clothed in consultantspeak, as human as a plastic bag. it may make you nod, it will not make you dance.

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the original microsoft mission was also inspiring: a computer on every desk & in every home

nike has resisted gobbledegook to craft a mission statement that has the thrill of a purpose:

& quite visionary as the company was a start-up that didn’t make computers.

to bring inspiration & innovation to every athlete in the world

when the corporation broadened its reach, a new less compelling mission took centre stage:

at microsoft, we work to help people & businesses throughout the world realise their full potential. this is our mission. everything we do reflects this mission & the values that make it possible then, in his final letter to shareholders, october 2013, outgoing ceo steve ballmer renewed the mission:

to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most & the magic is lost.

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it encapsulates: why – what - who why + what to bring inspiration & innovation who to every athlete in the world then, you may ask, what’s the difference between a well-articulated purpose, a well-articulated vision & a well-articulated mission. does it matter – as long as the purpose shines through? a colleague, reading the above, tells me: just come out & say it – unless the mission is in essence the purpose, don’t bother. if it is the purpose – why bother? if you have a purpose, a mission is irrelevant. the business dictionary boils mission down to core purpose & focus – when your mission is to make people happy, purpose is focus. clear enough.

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rewards how rewards are structured guides what happens in culture. when they are misaligned with purpose & values, for instance rewarding performance extravagantly in spite of infringements in behaviour, a cancer will spread through the organisation. the longer this is allowed to spread, the more aggressive the treatment must be.

when considering rewards, look at adapting maslow’s hierarchy. starting at the base: physiological for maslow this means basic physical needs. for organisations it is decent working conditions (from breathable air & clean canteens to high performance buildings); plus a liveable wage

self-actualisation esteem love / belonging safety

safety this is more than strictly enforced safety conditions. while organisations can no longer promise lifetime employment, they can offer lifetime employability. training & upskilling are key. you reward me by helping me be of more value to you‌& others.

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physiological


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love/belonging how do you encourage committed teams working towards common goals, inspired by purpose? hot teams flourish in both formal & informal structures. not letting down the team becomes a passion & inspiration. often, the best leadership can do to help these teams achieve the extraordinary, is just get out of the way. human organisations tend to over-organise. organograms create divisions that too easily lead to internal competition. then hot teams are prime candidates to suffer the tall poppy fate

our dream for the 1990s is a boundaryless company...where we knock down the walls that separate us from each other on the inside and from our key constituencies on the outside jack welch in ge 1990 annual report the need for belonging is most needed following makeovers & mergers. aol time warner & daimler chrysler were mergers that resulted in spectacular destruction of shareholder value . the projected figures made the mergers look good enough to eat, the expected synergies were mouthwatering, but they didn’t figure in the cultural divides wider than the grand canyon.

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after investec bought metboard, there was a decision to be made - one brand or two. research indicated that investec unit trusts attracted the bolder hope of gain customer, whilst the older fear of loss customer trusted metboard. another reason for two brands was that the metboard unit trust portfolio was several times the size of investec’s however, marketing two brands is more expensive than one & with funds divided, neither would receive all the attention it deserves. an even more compelling reason was the concern that the two would polarise two cultures, clouding internal clarity. the metboard brand was retired. a business, culture & communications strategy was developed that led to the migration of metboard clients with a net gain in funds. it was also the springboard for investec in select international markets, with a brand & culture that is smart, progressive & entrepreneurial. this is not a one-size fits all solution. nissan-renault is a strategic dual-brand partnership. resources are shared to reduce costs & speed up development, whilst great care is taken to preserve the integrity of the two cultures & brands.

(mission)

rewards stories


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esteem anton was the king of executive placements , winning every quarterly competition, bar one, for most income generated. his framed winner’s certificates lined his office. he also knew how to scam the system. he paced himself to score the big hits at the end of a quarter, while keeping an eagle eye on other consultants’ performances. if he was well ahead, he would only report the late big hits next time around, giving himself a head start. the perpetual number two saw the play & in one quarter held back a few big hits of her own. anton saw he was well ahead with two hours to go & parked his last-minutes big hits for the next quarter. with 30 minutes to go, number two registered her big hits & became number one, with ensuing applause & certificate.

what was the best moment of the win?� I asked her. the next morning, she replied. i know anton comes in early, so I came in early, too. we have adjoining offices. i bought the biggest nail i could find & i started to hammer it in, on our adjoining wall. thwack, thwack, thwack. each time i struck that nail, anton heard the changing of the guard. it felt great.

27 the purpose cascades purpose & culture

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purpose values

vision

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esteem & inequality competing to win is in the dna of almost all of us. it is the bedrock of capitalism. but it’s no use winning in the dark - recognition validates us. what we do is acknowledged, giving meaning to who we are. esteem is built on how others value you. as well as formal feedback & competitions, a thank you in the moment for a job well done builds internal spirit. appropriate recognition will encourage the ideal blend of culture & performance. money is recognition with teeth – the labourer is worthy of her hire. the larger the wage gap between highest & lowest paid, the more that esteem is squashed. in south africa, one of the world’s most unequal countries, the new leader of a listed company cut his salary by r1 million a year. the next 60 agreed not to take a budgeted salary increase. the money saved is being distributed to 1 200 employees at the foot of the ladder, reducing the wage gap from 120:1 o 48:1. will esteem convert to profit? will there be less unrest, greater productivity? it seems logical – and if that happens, we can assume a higher share price will more than compensate executives for their income sacrifice. on the debit side, comparison shopping drives down the costs of everything from bananas to microchips. this squeezes the most vulnerable in the system. as a consumer, i want what i want, where, how & when i want it - at the lowest price. as a citizen, i know the world will be a safer, better place if everyone had a fair deal.

28 the purpose cascades purpose & culture

microsoft employee meme designed to challenge the status quo, build esteem & performance. developed by hugh macleod of gaping void 


purpose values

self-actualisation sitting at the top of the pile is self-actualisation. for some it is like a strong gravitational force, pulling them through all the levels of difficulty. for others the force is weaker; for some far weaker, engulfed in loss of hope. in the global marketplace, many organisations match the first four levels of maslow’s hierarchy – a sense of purpose is far harder to emulate, far harder to leave.

the king was not content with being. he was striving to become. salman rushdie- the enchantress of florence globalism has also redefined city regions as economic & social hubs that need to show why they deserve a bigger piece of the global pie. if citizens could share the same sense of purpose, the city region will prosper. while that may seem ambitious, the process can start with city employees. maslow believes each level must be reached before ascending to the next. we are seeing something a little different. sense of purpose is your guide through upward levels to reach the state of self-actualisation. it is a journey from good to great.

29 the purpose cascades purpose & culture

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stories the best company stories show purpose in action – and southwest airlines do this better than anyone. the adventures of hanover bear are on youtube –

here’s what happened.

lara and her young son will, were taking southwest from jacksonville to kansas city, with a short layover in nashville that gave them both just enough time to grab a slice of pizza & accidentally leave behind a backpack with her son’s most prized possession, ‘hanover bear’. they only realised when they reached kansas & a frantic call to southwest lost property followed at around 11pm. the employee who took the call, went personally to find backpack and bear. she returned them, with this handwritten note:

dear will, i had a very fun time at the airport in nashville. there were lots of people & planes to see. When it was time to go to sleep i missed you. i asked a nice lady at southwest to call mummy so i could come home. please give me a big hug. love, hanover bear southwest airlines has made profits for 40 consecutive years.

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every card tells a story the betterlife group is expanding its territory. for a decade the largest bond originator in south africa, the company has now moved into insurance, based on the same model. their vision (i am told it was crafted as a purpose) is:

to be the company that changes lives in africa. to be the company that makes the dreams of our customers & our staff come true. purpose is being made manifest from within. for instance, all staff are encouraged to submit a dream that money can buy – or at least help – and a monthly draw is made to fulfill that dream. entries can range from the first time in a plane, to a violin for a gifted child. each business card has a photograph & words about someone or something that the cardholder cherishes. the group donates to each chosen charity. when you receive a card, you are likely to ask why the photograph was chosen. and the reply will be a story that embraces shared humanity, shared purpose.

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umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu a person is a person through the eyes of others (zulu saying) we live in transparent times, stories spread by word of mouse as well as word of mouth. the ones that resonate most are those that recount personal experiences, containing a larger truth. nike has senior executives who are known as corporate storytellers. a favourite nike story is about coach bowerman. he decided that his team needed better running shoes, went out to his workshop & poured rubber into the family waffle iron. the text tells how the “waffle sole” was born. the sub—text is the nike spirit of innovation.

nike is not about athletic footwear. it is a story of youth, triumph & fame. rolf jensen, the dream society some of the often repeated tales may be myths & legends yet they are authentic to heart & spirit. secretaries finding bill gates asleep under his desk on a monday morning, having done another 72 hour work-shift, spoke volumes to early microsoft employees & silicon valley start-ups. not everyone is a born story-teller & few stories achieve sam goldwyn’s standards:

we want a story that starts out with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax. as long as stories bring your purpose to life, you know your culture is good & true.

32 the purpose cascades purpose & culture

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other stuff these cascades have been developed at freedthinkers over the last 15 years. we explore realities & possibilities for organisations that range from cities to schools, from insurance to media. we welcome feedback as the journey continues mike@freedthinkers.com www.freedthinkers.com www.purposecascades.com brand cascade by june 2014 impact cascade by august 2014 some of the writings that have inspired this journey: a simpler way by margaret wheatley & myron kelner-rogers a deep, eloquent case made for corporate purpose – here is a taster: every organisation is an identity in motion, moving through the world, trying to make a difference organisations with multiple personality disorders confuse us with their incoherence change is a continuous, creative energy organisations can keep searching for new ties that bind us to them – new incentives, rewards, punishments. but organisations could accomplish so much more if they relied on the passion evoked when we connect to others, purpose to purpose. so many of us want to be more. so many of us hunger to discover who we might become together. 33 the purpose cascades purpose & culture

gaping void by hugh macleod they began as cartoons on the back of business cards, reflecting the life of a young adman in new york. now there’s gaping void art, e-books & a blog with over 7 000 posts, with provocations on meaning. (they’re funny, too). as one of his toothy cartoon characters proclaims: “life is short. make it amazing”. his guiding light: creativity with purpose www.gapingvoidart.com tao te ching written over 2 500 years ago by the chinese sage, lao tzu, the tao te ching is in part a treatise on the philosophical & religious sides of taoism, in part a manual for leaders & facilitators. my favourite edition is the illustrated translation by man-ho kwok, martin palmer & jay ramsay, with calligraphy by kok-lap chan, published by element. this is from chapter 16: the sage watches the seasons rise & fall & if he knows how things grow. he knows they are fed by their roots & they return to their roots to grow & flower & flow every thing must have its roots & the tendrils working quietly underground. this quiet feeding is the way of nature

the unpublished david ogilvy i joined ogilvy & mather as a cub copywriter, after being happily seduced by david ogilvy’s “confessions of an advertising man”. my copy chief there tells of her first experience with ogilvy. i came back to my office in the early evening, flushed with the success of a presentation to a major client. i saw a man with his back to me, bending over, poking around in my waste-paper bin. he turned to me waving a piece of crumpled paper. “there seems to be a decent mind at work here” he said. i realised it was david ogilvy & being completely thrown, as well as a couple of whiskey sodas to the good, suggested he should wait to see the finished ad. he waved away the suggestion. “what i see in print & on television is the product of many minds & compromises. i see your truth in your waste-paper basket”. the unpublished david ogilvy is a selection of his notes to business partners, as well as extracts from speeches & includes such gems as: develop your eccentricities while you’re young. that way, when you get old, people won’t think you’re going gaga. the line between ‘pride in our work’ & ‘neurotic obstinacy is a narrow one. we do not grudge clients the right to decide what advertising to run. it is their money. whenever you write a commercial, bear in mind that it is likely to be seen by your children, your wife - & your conscience. design & layout by jadesign*

purpose cascades i purpose & culture  

why we need a shared sense of purpose. & how purpose cascades into a powerful work culture. this is the first in a series of three - ii w...

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