In Douglas Adam’s book, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, it took the supercomputer, Deep Thought 7.5 million years to come up with the Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything. Hopefully, when we start an organization, it doesn’t take us that long, especially when the answer is as simple as 42.
From the start, I knew my company’s Purpose, but I could never articulate it well enough, at least not in a simple coherent sentence. Why that is important is as simple as the number 42, that is, the people around us need a cause that they can believe in. What’s beautiful about a cause rather than a mission statement or a values proposition, is that it can be simple- in fact, the simpler the better.
The striking thing is, how important it really is for your people (I mean your employees of course, but I tend not to use that word). It wasn’t till last year after 24 years in business that it really came to light how crucial it is to have a clear and defined purpose. Up till then, we had terms like Mindful Building which we had trademarked in the early years, we had a set of values that everyone embraced, and we actively work on these values with monthly recognition for people who embody them. We also have a mission statement, though it is wordy and unwieldy, and I still can’t recite it word for word. It wasn’t until I was challenged in a vision meeting with a group of our people that it dawned on me what our purpose was.
Simon Sinek’s amazing book, Start with Why, is likely to be the ultimate guidebook on how you come up with your purpose. In it, he talks about how your customers are more interested in Why you do what you do than what it is you do. But your people will get behind why you do it too, and if they believe what you believe, you’ll build a company with a unified purpose and your values and vision will be aligned. It also happens to be one of the most critical parts of attracting great talent.
Fortunately, it did not take 7.5 million years for me to come up with the answer to our WHY, but it did take almost a quarter century to codify it. If you already know your “WHY” and have a purpose articulated that is clear and shared by everyone in your organization, then all you must do is continue to keep it at the core of every decision you make. And continue to instill it in your culture. If you don’t have it yet, I encourage you to take up that work and figure it out. Watch the difference in your teams when you do.
Our why- it’s simple: We believe in Helping People Build a Better Future