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  • Gifford Thomas

Move From Average To Great By Focusing On Your Core Purpose


Just imagine this for a second, in 1996, there was a web campaign to get Apple fans to buy a few shares of the company to show Wall Street that Apple was still relevant, believe it or not. When Steve jobs return, the fortune of Apple change significantly, and that’s putting it very mildly.


Ryan Faas wrote in his article 'If you had told me years ago when I was reporting on Apple’s change in leadership that the company would eventually have a market cap that topped Exxon Mobil’s making it the most valuable company in the U.S. (and exceeding Microsoft and Intel combined) -- or that it would have more cash on hand than the United States itself, I’d have called you crazy”


But it happened, and it took place under Steve Jobs’ leadership.


What changed at Apple when Steve Jobs return? One word, purpose. When you create that triangle of alignment between your core purpose, strategy, and culture supported by an efficient communication strategy, your organization will automatically find its pulse of existence.


If you have a misalignment between these critical variables, your company will descend into abject chaos, and no amount of personnel changes will help if this alignment does not take place. It's interesting, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the core purpose of the company was used as the catalyst for the change.


Purpose Driven



The company rediscovered its purpose, and Jobs did a fantastic job to aligned that core purpose to the strategy and culture of the organization. In 1997 Apple was a bureaucratic mess filled with competing departments and managers. Steve Jobs ended these feuds and took a keen interest in the details of product development. That degree of upper management involvement still exists at Apple and is now part of the company’s DNA.


Steve Jobs made Apple culture more agile, giving it that degree of flexibility comparable to that of a startup. Given the fact that an innovative company needs a flexible culture, that agility allowed Apple to respond to changes quickly as it relates to technology, markets, and its user. As a result, Apple started to produce insanely great products that continue to influence the world.


The alignment begins right there at the core purpose. If you get this wrong, if your staff is not aware, if this is not the center focus of your strategic planning, if it’s not part of your company DNA, your organization will find it tough to achieve its objectives and to inspire anyone to achieve anything. Your purpose should feed your strategy and culture. On the flip side, if you are changing your strategic focus or your culture, your purpose must be used to drive the change.


Walmart, for example, has one of the leanest operations in the retailing business, and every aspect of their activities is measured to ensure their cost is kept to a minimum. This culture is created to ensure Walmart delivers on its purpose.


The Triangle of Alignment




Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart had a firm conviction that a retailer could help people save money and live better. The company was founded to provide the lowest prices available to help its customers save some money.


Now, to fulfill their purpose, the company developed a strategy of operational excellence and created an organizational culture aligned to this strategy to deliver on its mission. If you worked at Walmart, you would have a specific job description; waste is not tolerated, and the environment is very process-driven.


If one of these variables is out of alignment, it will spell disaster for the entire company. If you took someone from Google, for example, and place that individual in this lean culture at Walmart, that person will find it very difficult to operate simply because, the purpose, values, and strategy at Google, which promotes creativity, innovation, flexibility is entirely different from Walmart’s process driven culture.


It all starts with the core purpose; when it is clear to everyone in the organization your alignment begins. You must identify your core purpose and ensure that every single person in the company understands what it means to the company. This alignment sets the tone for the entire organization, and it must become the soul of the company.


The Importance Of Communication




Communication is the pillars that hold everything together. The importance of communication cannot be overstated. If your channels of communication are weak, the alignment will not work. If your managers are not communicating with your staff, the alignment will not work. I can write a whole paper on the importance of communication, but for this article, a communication strategy is of vital importance.


How do you know if your communication is effective? Try this simple test, ask each person in your department or ask your managers, what's the purpose of this company, or ask what’s the company’s strategic focus. If you get different responses, something is wrong with the organization’s communication strategy, and your employees are functioning without any sense of purpose.


You cannot lead a company effectively if that deep-seated purpose does not drive the company. Purpose-driven companies are the most successful companies on the planet, not by accident. The employees of these companies understand that their work impacts millions of people every day, and their function makes the life of individuals better. According to John Battelle, 77% of Millennial's chose their place of work based on their employers’ purpose.


If that purpose is lost, you will develop a culture of people waiting anxiously for the end of their workday.


-What's your vision.

-Where do you want to go?

-What's your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?

-Where do you see your company in 5 – 10 years?

-What's your purpose, your reason for existence?


You must create that vision to get your staff on board to ensure they remain inspire and motivated to help the organisation achieve their vision while delivering on it's purpose.

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About Gifford Thomas


I am the founder of Leadership First and the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. At Leadership First, we are committed to publishing the very best inspirational leadership quotes and articles to inspire our 140,000+ community of leaders to believe in the impossible, while creating an environment free from toxic, fearful and intimidating leadership. We believe everyone can and should enjoy their work, but it must start with the leadership leading by example. Follow our community of leaders HERE, and let's change the leadership status quo to help inspire and motivate our leaders to make a difference and create an organization their people will love.


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