Culture Rules – Part Two: “What is the ‘Purpose’ of your company/organization?”

Excerpted with permission from Mark Miller’s new book “Culture Rules”

Culture eats strategy for breakfast! - Dr. Peter Drucker
Note from Bob:  Mark has packed so much great content into “Culture Rules” that it simply cannot all be shared in just one post – so we are going to break Rule #1 “Aspire” into four parts!   

Today’s Post,  is  Part Two: “What Is the ‘Purpose’ of Your Company/Organization?”

Click HERE to read Part One:  “What Is the ‘Ethos’ of Your Company/Organization?”

Click HERE to read Part Three:  “What Is Your ‘Vision’ for Your Company/Organization?”

Click HERE to read Part Four:  “What Is the ‘Mission’ for Your Company/Organization?” 

Click HERE to read Part Five: “What Are the ‘Values’ for Your Company/Organization?”  

Three Rules for Building Your Culture:

These 3 Rules and their accompanying best practices will enable you to:

  • Clarify and communicate your organization’s cultural aspirations.
  • Reinforce the aspiration through your daily activities.
  • Maintain relevance and vitality by constantly enhancing your culture.

Rule #1: Aspire
Share your hopes and dreams for the culture.

Some leaders bristle at the idea of purpose. You may be one of those leaders. I’ve talked to many of you over the years. If I had to summarize what I’ve heard, I would say you think the concept is, well . . . soft. You are more comfortable with hard assets, hard numbers, and more tangible things. I understand. But there is something magical about clarity of purpose. (I realize referencing purpose as magical probably does nothing to debunk your sentiment regarding the softness of the concept.)

What does magic have to do with organizational health and high performance? Everything. Everything, that is, if you consider channeling and releasing the human spirit relevant. People want to be well led. How do you lead well without telling people what you are trying to accomplish and why it is important? All of the leaders we have profiled in this chapter understand purpose can provide a clarion call that brings out the best in people.

What Is Your Purpose?

Before you determine your purpose, you need to consider if having a stated purpose would help your organization. My personal bias is yes, it would. However, what is more important is for your organization to have a clear Aspiration. You may choose to represent this in other forms—mission, ethos, values, or some combination of these.

If you do decide a purpose statement is part of your arsenal for establishing the cultural Aspiration, here are a few questions that may help:

The first is: Why does your organization exist?

This is no trivial question, and it’s one many leaders have wrestled with and come out with totally different and very unique conclusions.

Coca-Cola Company: Refresh the world. Make a difference.

Johnson & Johnson: We believe our first responsibility is to the patients, doctors and nurses, to
mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services.

Netflix: To entertain the world.

Ferrari: To make unique sports cars that represent the finest in Italian design and craftsmanship,
both on the track and on the road.

Now, let me ask you again: Why does your organization exist?

The essence of purpose is it always answers the question “Why?” Your purpose can offer specific strategies and tactics; however, this is a slippery slope. By definition, strategies and tactics change with circumstances. In an ideal world, I would argue that a purpose should be much more steadfast. The stability and predictability of your purpose gives the organization confidence in a changing world.

Just a few more questions for now . . .

• What was your organization born to do?
• What fires you up about the future you are trying to create?
• What is it about the future you envision that compels you to pursue it?
• What do you want the legacy of your organization to be one hundred years from now?
• How would you explain why you exist (not what you do) to a small child?
• What greater good can your organization contribute to the world?
• If your organization went away, what would the world lose?

All of these questions are intended to stimulate your imagination and help you cut through the fog so you can answer one fundamental question: Why does your organization exist?

The answer to this question is your purpose.

Purpose is powerful. For many, their “why” is all the reason they need to do what they do day after day. Many people in the workforce derive their sense of personal purpose from their workplaces. The best leaders understand and stoke this need for meaning, a source of fulfillment, and value by invoking the purpose of the organization.

Click HERE to purchase your “Culture Rules” book today!

You can also view the one hour Webinar on “Culture Rules” Mark did on February 6 by clicking  HERE

Mark Miller


Mark Miller is a business leader, best-selling author, and a communicator. He is currently serving as the Vice President of High Performance Leadership for Chick-fil-A, Inc. Beyond chicken, Mark’s global influence continues to grow. Today, there are over a million copies of his books in print, in twenty-five languages. Culture Rules is his eleventh  title.


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