Lean Strategy Field Guide: Purpose

In a big picture sense, where is your business headed and how will you get there?

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Purpose Resources

Core Purpose

Core Purpose is the big picture reason why your company exists. Aspirational, large and abstract, the Core Purpose can never be fully completed.

Instead, it acts as a guiding star to focus all other business activities. Focused exclusively on the big picture “why” of the company, and not include any methods, means, or specific approaches or executions. You should be able to have many different approaches to realizing the Core Purpose without changing the Core Purpose.

Purpose is tricky because it has to be big enough to be inspiring, but also specific and concrete enough that you can actually work toward it.

It helps to make sure that your purpose can be within your own control as much as possible. Your purpose shouldn’t be something that depends on actions from people that extends beyond what you can directly impact. For example: if your product is a new car, you can make the car high quality and make the experience of buying it pleasant, but you can’t control where people drive the car after they buy it.

Core Values

Core values describe what we believe and how we behave. They are our principles and beliefs, standards for conduct even (and especially) when things get difficult.

Good Core Values are:

  • Non-Negotiable: We believe deeply in these principles and won’t compromise.
  • Industry-Independent: Fundamental beliefs rooted in human nature, not business.  
  • A Unifying Force: Everyone agrees on and gets behind the core values.
  • Guiding Principles: Shape our strategies and and behaviors; our moral compass.
  • Practical Tools: Helps us decide what to do, what not to do, and how to prioritize  projects and tasks.
  • Demonstrated Through Action: We live our values to make them true.

Core Values Examples

Google

  • Focus on the user and all else will follow.
  • It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
  • Fast is better than slow.
  • Democracy on the web works.
  • You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
  • You can make money without doing evil.
  • There’s always more information out there.
  • The need for information crosses borders.
  • You can be serious without a suit.
  • Great just isn’t good enough.

Zappos

  • Deliver WOW through service
  • Embrace and drive change
  • Create fun and a little weirdness
  • Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
  • Pursue growth and learning
  • Build open and honest relationships with communication
  • Build a positive team and family spirit
  • Do more with less
  • Be passionate and determined
  • Be humble

Whole Foods

  • Selling the highest quality natural and organic products available
  • Satisfying and delighting our customers
  • Supporting team member excellence through profits and growth
  • Caring about our communities and our environment
  • Creating ongoing win-win partnerships with our suppliers
  • Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education

Vision Statement

Your Vision Statement describes the ultimate outcome of your efforts in terms of your impact on the world. It can be helpful to think of your Vision in terms of an “Envisioned Future” — that is, a description of what the world could be like if you achieve everything you set out to do.

A good vision statement describes your impact on the world and your customers, not just the future state of your own company.

Good Vision Statements are:

  • Future-Focused: Describes the world in an ideal future state.  
  • Specific and Concrete: It paints a detailed, easily envisioned picture of the future.  
  • Simple & Clear: The vision and its benefits are easily understood by anyone.  
  • Present Tense: Written as if it were already true & happening right now.  
  • Practical Tools: Helps us decide what to do, what not to do, and how to prioritize projects and tasks.
  • Magnetic: A clear vision “pulls” us toward it and attracts others with similar ideals.  
  • Inspirational: Ambitious, but based in reality. Illustrates what is possible if the group works together for a common purpose.
  • Logical: The world described in your vision would logically result from your activities, if carried out sufficiently well and for a long time.

Vision Statement Examples

LinkedIn

 

Create economic opportunity for every professional.

 

Amazon

 

To be the earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

 

Alzheimer’s Association

 

A world without Alzheimer’s.

 

Habitat for Humanity

 

A world where everyone has a decent place to live.

 

Oceana

 

To make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they once were.

 

Teach for America

 

All children in this nation have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

Big Goals

Big Goals are broad primary outcomes that move you closer to your Envisioned Future.

Goals are often big-picture and may be qualitative or quantitative.

These are best set at the organization level. Goals may be separated into short-term and long-term goals, and then further broken down into specific Objectives and Key Results.

Objectives & Key Results

Objectives and Key Results outline the important milestones along the way to the bigger organizational goals.

Goals and Objectives are similar, but Objectives tend to be smaller and more concrete.

Objectives are best when they are are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound). According to OKR methodology, 3-5 Key Results per Objective are ideal.