Purpose statements have long tasted like stale Saltines filled with things like who founded the company, when it was founded, the company’s position as the market leader, its dedication to customer service, who its customers are, and why you should aspire to be just like them.
While there is nothing wrong with any of these, today’s cynical society simply doesn’t believe most of the claims.
“Enough is enough. Enough is enough. We’re going to reform the way that Wall Street does business and put an end to the greed that has driven our markets into chaos.” So said John McCain after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in contrast to the “Greed is good” mentality as Boomers and X’ers charged full speed ahead at all-out wealth building, come hell or high water, for nearly the last 40 years.
Let’s examine this in context of the series of five questions I’ve been pondering about company purpose, specifically #2: “What is the implied value of organizations of greater purpose?” In other words, why does your customer care about your purpose?
I realize this is some heady stuff, but hang-in here with me for another 3 minutes. I’ll land this plane right at the front door of your family business.
The Millennials who swept President Obama into office this past November are interested in REAL change. James Madison understood that government alone is not the solution when he wrote: “But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
Consider the positioning of these growing firms:
Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet
5% of our income goes into your community
These companies are attractive to consumers. You’re welcome to comment on how horrible your experience has been with any of them; it won’t change the fact that each of these firms have successfully staked a claim at being a responsible corporate citizen.
Small family firms are doing good things in their towns, but a false sense of humility makes them unwilling to be credited for the good they are doing. This “stay behind the scenes” corporate position won’t move the next round of consumers into you stores.
It’s been said that people don’t care how much you know until you they know how much you care.
The only way to replace a price and product-oriented business model is to stand for something! Give them something to believe in!
I’ll share with you one of my favorite blogs. The REBELUTION. Yes, I realize it is a Christian blog. Yes, you may ask what this has to do with selling merchandise. The authors are Alex and Brett, brothers and college freshman who wrote a book called “Do Hard Things.” Their website has received over 16,000,000 hits. The REBELUTION has begun.
Purpose is the driving force into the future. Aspire to greatness! Who cares if you look a little foolish? You might change the industry, and you might even change the world.