Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

How to Tie Purpose into Your Culture and Transform Your Company (Part 2)

Guest Author

By Adam Fridman, Contributor @ Inc, Founder Mabbly

In yesterday’s blog post, I introduced the idea of purpose, values, habits, and culture all tie together to transform and strengthens a company.  But how do you go about creating your purpose?

Create a Purpose That Transforms

At Mabbly, our methodology to create a purpose that transforms company culture is to form a team of Inspired Purpose Champions (IPCs) who can identify / define the purpose and rally others around it. These are people who care about making purpose and can communicate it to others in a way that’s inspiring.

Diversity of opinion is important here, but so is avoiding the possibility of overwhelming everyone. So, we recommend a team of about 3 - 9 people. Larger organizations will require a number of IPCs at the higher end of the scale, and smaller companies will require less. This allows for diverse viewpoints without the challenges (communication, splintering, etc.) associated with an overly large team.

You will want to select people from different parts of the company, as well as different roles (executives, managers, and individual contributors), generations, genders, etc. The IPCs’ job is to bring their unique perspective to the job of purpose creation and to help in communicating that purpose to the people whose viewpoints they represent. Two things they should all have in common is their passion for the idea of purpose, and their belief in the idea that it can be transformative.

The IPCs get together in what we call a Purpose Jam. The Purpose Jam is a meeting―usually at least an hour long and held somewhere that minimizes interruptions and stimulates creativity―where the IPCs take in individual perspectives about purpose and synthesize them into something that can inspire. In other words, they create a common goal. This process may require more than one meeting.

Transforming Culture with Purpose

Once the IPC team has “jammed” and found an inspiring purpose for our company, the next step is to turn that inspiration into something more tangible. After all, it’s all just talk until we start changing how people think and the actions they take (i.e. their values and habits).

As we mentioned in yesterday’s blog, values are general frameworks or guidelines that support decision-making, while habits are how we put those values into action. “Showing Gratitude,” for example, is a value, whereas saying “Thank you” is a habit.

Like purpose, simply stating organizational values doesn’t automatically change the values of the people who have to live them. To drive change, organizations must find a way to align their values with those of the individuals within the organization. Here again, integrating diverse viewpoints is important. Only when individual and organizational values align can they result in positively changing people’s approach to their work.

Habits and Transformation

Habits, on the other hand, are one area where company can easily drive change. Where values are broad guidelines and belief systems, habits have to do with the daily work routines of your people. To transform these, organizations must look at the behaviors that are rewarded as well as those that are associated with negative consequences.

What’s most important is that organizations must be consistent in how these are applied. The habits that are rewarded must be those that support purpose. Actions that do not support purpose must receive some sort of consequence or people begin to infer that purpose doesn’t really mean anything. People need to believe that their individual actions―their habits―are important and directly tied to the purpose of the organization.

In the end, tying purpose to culture is not really about changing people. It’s about changing their ideas about why and how an organization operates. And it’s about supporting your people in their roles so that they can be more effective in their work and lives.

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