Is your Purpose Alive and Well?

In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, leaders had a full plate just dealing with the immediate implications of closed operations, employee safety, rapid cash flow decline, and more. By now, most have created a new plan for 2020 that reflects this unprecedented challenge.

In light of this progress, I want to ask you to step back for just a moment and ask yourselves this question – does our new 2020 plan reflect the purpose, the mission, and the WHY of our organization?  Would our team members, guests, and clients see clear evidence of our purpose in the actions we are taking on their behalf? Will our company or organization’s purpose be deeper, better understood, and a clear competitive point of difference after this crisis?

I found myself asking this question on a myriad of Zoom calls this week – to various responses. A crisis is a “pop quiz” for your purpose. It reveals how much we know about—and how deeply committed we are—to our purpose.  Is it just a plaque in the lobby, or does it truly govern our plans and actions? Is it just a collection of happy words without any impact on our innovation or execution?

Too often…it’s a plaque.

Let’s think about the implications of purpose right now as we create a plan for the rest of 2020. I chose the following purpose statements from websites – and as such, I have no insights into what these companies are actually planning for 2020. But if I was asked to challenge their purpose in these times, I might ask the following questions. . . .

TED: Spread Ideas – make great ideas accessible and spark conversations about them.

Have you pivoted to creating content on how innovation occurs in medical/pharmaceutical industries that are now challenged to find the answers to the global pandemic?

JetBlue: Inspire Humanity

What innovative content and communication have you developed to inspire humanity during the pandemic? How would this content draw the customer into a more loyal relationship with the airline?

LinkedIn: Creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce

What specifically have you announced that will help people regain economic momentum? Could you be an innovator in spurring a return of economic well-being to the world?

The Walt Disney Company: To entertain, inform and inspire people through the power of unparalleled storytelling.

What stories are you telling right now in unparalleled ways that would build my affinity toward the company? How will these stories build my affinity towards visiting the parks in the future?

The same question of purpose can be asked in a non-profit organization…

World Vision: A Christian Humanitarian organization helping children, families, and their communities overcome poverty and injustice.

How is the pandemic impacting global poverty and how can we pivot our resources to the highest areas of need? Is there an opportunity to accelerate our impact in the world through this crisis?

Feed America: To feed America’s hungry through a network of food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.

How can this crisis be turned into an opportunity to eradicate hunger in America?  What education and action plans could we enact while we have the attention of the nation?

As you go back to your home office desk today, challenge yourself to evaluate your go-forward plans with conviction about the purpose of your organization.  Should you be working on a few innovative ways to make that purpose come alive for your team, your clients, your customers?

Serve well.

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