31 Jul, 2019

What’s the Purpose of a Purpose?

I’ll be honest this post is going to be based on a hybrid analysis of two of my favourite books/videos/talks – but, of course, with my own slant on it based on my experience not only in running an agency for ten years but also in the stories I’ve picked up from working with hundreds of clients.
To give both Speakers their well-deserved credits, the underlying premise of this is based on Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ (Buy the book, visit his site or at least watch his TED Talk) and Simon Hartley’s ‘Two Lengths of the Pool’ (Again, buy the book or visit his site for more info).
Both these speakers are excellent at making what many people and consultants over complicate – a business’s purpose or, to quote Simon Sinek, “Their ‘why’”.

I won’t steal too much from both of these as I think it’s really important that you actually get what they mean direct from the horse’s mouth, but in my view too many consultants over stress values and purpose and mission statements – ultimately giving businesses a list of 10+ commandments they should try and live by. It’s just over the top and distracts everyone from a core reason for operating.
I strongly believe every organisation can work to one single purpose or one why. That purpose will ultimately cover (what I’ll refer to as) all an organisation’s inputs and outputs. I’m not going to give away all our secrets and our real inputs and outputs, but let’s apply this premise to Pixelbuilders (as an example only!!!!).
Inputs to me are things an organisation does – these are very often misconstrued as purposes or missions, and there are often too many to be able really deliver them all as your core purpose creating a distraction. The inputs actually are the stepping stones to achieving your purpose. You could list things like ‘Build amazing websites’, ‘Get our clients ranking high on Google’, ‘Support charities with their online fundraising’, ‘Increase online revenues by X%’ or ‘Deliver excellent client service’.  They’re all things we do.
Outputs, without being too obvious, are the outputs of achieving or hitting your purpose, again, these are probably seen as goals or targets. They tend to be more business focussed – “Increase turnover”, “Bigger net margins”, “Employ more staff”, “Better working environment” etc etc. They’re the natural fallout of simply achieving your purpose and doing what you do well.
So based on the above, the combing factor is a purpose and it’s as simple as “We help our clients succeed online”.
If we achieve all our inputs, our clients will succeed online, if they succeed online, we’ll achieve our outputs. It’s one, relatively simple, statement that ties everything together and stops us chasing 10 different values or mission; giving a simple and honest target everyone internal and external to our agency can understand.
From a client aspect, it’s really important we can try to understand an organisation’s single purpose – then when we’re design a site or building a new function, we can align it back to that purpose. If it fits, do it, if it doesn’t address or change it. There’s no point in doing something just because, always ask why.

Give those books and talks a read/watch and then really think what is your organisation’s purpose – hopefully it will really help you simplify what you do and succeed more in everything you do.