How do organizations bring purpose to life—ingraining purpose with the power to transform? Our approach to developing an authentic purpose and helping organizations live it integrates internal and external inputs from multiple perspectives with four steps—discover, articulate, activate, and embed—that build upon and reinforce one another. The work begins with Discovery.
How does an organization identify its purpose? It starts by digging deep to unearth employees’ sentiments and consumers’ insights. In the Discovery phase, the organization immerses itself in materials related to the company’s culture and ethos. Through employee workshops and surveys, customer surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews (of people from the C-suite to the front line), the company probes such questions as, What do we aspire to be and do? What would the world lose if we were gone tomorrow?
Once the organization has established “who we are,” subject matter experts are brought in to help leaders explore the universal human needs that the organization can meaningfully address. These experts are typically drawn from academia as well as from fields of practice; a single company might host luminaries as diverse as a Metropolitan Opera singer and a NASA engineer. Tapping experts from diverse fields helps unearth fresh, outside-the-box insights.
For example, SunTrust, the Atlanta-based bank, invited a leading researcher on trust, labor relations, and governance to share her insights. In labor unions, she noted, trust springs from the belief that “we’re all in this together”—an important notion for a bank in the aftermath of the recession, which tainted banking’s image as wholly self-serving. And an astronomer offered perspectives on the sun’s characteristics as a source of life-giving energy and light. For the bank, this suggested the importance of shedding light on typically opaque banking practices, such as the mortgage lending process. Insights from these and other luminaries helped SunTrust formulate its defining purpose: to illuminate and energize a world in need of financial well-being.
Find out more about how you can identify an organization in need of purpose by reading our recent white paper: Purpose with the Power to Transform.