Uncovering a company’s ethos is where the purpose journey begins. Ethos is rooted in a company’s history, defines its identity, and guides its behavior. Because purpose is authentic to an organization, we don’t say we “discover” the ethos, but rather that it’s uncovered from the organization’s past. As we say at BrightHouse: “The fruits are in the roots!”
Ethos is a Greek word meaning “character” that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, ideology — or in the case of BrightHouse’s work: a company. The Greeks used this word to refer to the power of music to influence its hearer’s emotions, behaviors, and even morals —which is why we believe that your company’s ethos is deeply intertwined with its values and moral character in the world.
In order to uncover the true ethos we look through historical documents like company histories, annual reports, old product catalogues, past marketing campaigns, timelines, founder biographies, and even mix tapes of company songs. We also conduct interviews with stakeholders from every aspect of the organization. From new employees to old, from the board room to the break room, we capture a diverse picture of the company’s enduring stories and important culture though lines.
We distill all this information in the first phase of our process into a set of values, sometimes called purpose principals or ethotic themes, that capture the essence of the organization. We also write a story of origin that ties the themes together with the spark that started the company.
This first phase of the journey is crucial for understanding who your company is at its best. With these guidelines based on your past, you can create the guardrails that will ensure your company’s future.