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WORDS BY JOHNNY ISAACS - 21/01/2021
The Importance of Purpose
Why having a clear purpose and communicating that to teams is vital for the success of both the company and the individuals within it.
Big or small, everything we do centres around the clear understanding that no matter what, the client comes first.
2020 was a difficult year and 2021 seems like it may well be much the same for many in the UK, until the latter stages at least.
"Having a shared purpose drives us forward even at difficult or challenging times."
We've been incredibly fortunate this past year. We've been able to weather the storm that was 2020 and to baton down the hatches. We continued to focus on our existing clients and operate at something close to normal. There were challenging moments, there were debates and there were times where it felt a little like a bit of a slog but we continued to put one foot in front of the other. What enabled us to do this is, is the fact that as a team, we have clarity of purpose and know exactly why we do what we do. We exist to make the lives of our clients better through our work. Big or small, everything we do centres around the clear understanding that no matter what, the client comes first. It's this shared purpose that has driven us forward even at difficult or challenging times.

Having a shared belief system and unifying purpose has been invaluable for us. We've noticed through our work how important it is for those we work with too in times of high stress such as we are experiencing at the moment. We've worked with clients who absolutely sing from the same hymn sheet, and we've worked with those who perhaps may have the hymn book, but are singing very different songs. One thing that stands out for us is just how much more satisfied those people who work in aligned teams are. This has certainly made our lives easier as an agency and it has had the same dramatic effect within the teams we have worked with.

One of the first things we do when we work on any project is to understand all the variables at play. It's impossible to solve an equation if you don't know them. The next step, though equally important is one that is often missed, and that is the Why. Why this piece of work needs to happen, who will it benefit and how will it benefit the overall team?
If we pull together towards a shared purpose, we can accomplish truly amazing things.
"Within organisations it can be very easy to fall into the trap of leaping straight into communicating to an external audience without firstly looking internally. Take the time to ensure everyone understands what you are doing and why."
Within organisations it can be very easy to fall into the trap of leaping straight into communicating to an external audience without firstly looking internally. Take the time to ensure everyone understands what you are doing and why. Sometimes, there can be situations in which team members asked point blank what the purpose of their team is, can't even tell you. This creates fractures in teams, isolation, lack of co-operation and then team members stop contributing because they don't want to expose themselves as having a lack of knowledge. This can be ironic as if one team member feels this, way, it's likely many others share their feelings. Ultimately this then leads to disenfranchisement, a feeling like a team member's work doesn't matter because they can't see how it relates to the bigger picture and ultimately dissatisfaction at work and under performance.

Being clear about your purpose matters. It is also why when you are clear on that purpose, it is imperative that you share it with your team members and communicate to them how their work contributes directly to that purpose. This is one of our key values and ways in which we work. We communicate internally first, and when we are certain that the internal team are aligned, only then do we communicate more broadly. One way of doing this is to share a clear end to end value chain. Highlight all the steps in it where team members contributions can be seen through the journey. Provide the insight in a visible format how their work directly impacts the mission or purpose of the company. This single exercise is immensely powerful. It brings teams together, can provide insight into where role overlaps occur which encourages collaboration and shows how the efforts of the entire team pull towards the same purpose.

Our choice of language is important too. We say working to a purpose rather than a goal. This is because goals are milestones on the journey, but they are not the reason for making the journey in the first place. Goals like milestones can be achieved and crossed off never to be revisited. But if you work to a purpose, then that is a never ending journey. For example, you might have a company that makes video conferencing technology specifically designed for the elderly. Your purpose is to connect the elderly and infirm with the outside world, family and allow them to feel a part of society. A goal would be to develop a prototype tablet with very basic controls and large font sizes so as not to confuse them with functionality and be very legible. That contributes to your purpose but it is just a milestone on the way. This 'Infinite Game' concept is spoken about at length in Simon Sinek's book of the same name and it is a must read for those seeking to embrace a vision and purpose driven culture.

This year we are doubling down on ensuring everyone we work with is clear on their purpose and how the work of their team contributes to that. If we ever needed validation on exactly how important it is, we got it over the past year. Aligning teams and empowering your people to understand how their work directly contributes to the purpose of a vision driven organisation is key to unlocking the true potential of your team members. We understand it can be daunting if you have lost your way, you may not know where to begin and it can feel like the map got lost somewhere along the trail.
"Aligning teams and empowering your people to understand how their work directly contributes to the purpose of the organisation is key to unlocking the true potential of your team members."
Having an external set of eyes and thoughts can help, and that's where we come in. If you would like to find out how we can help with your journey, get in touch and we would be more than happy to help.
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