Your Core Purpose Statement

The right Core Purpose is essential for the purpose-driven organization.

Your Core Purpose (which should last at least 100 years) should not be confused with specific goals or business strategies (which should change many times in 100 years). Whereas you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfill a purpose; it is like a guiding star on the horizon—forever pursued but never reached. Yet, although purpose itself does not change, it does inspire change. The very fact that purpose can never be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and progress. Don’t confuse your Core Purpose with your BHAG. Your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is a goal that can be achieved within 10-25 years.

Watch this 3-minute video to learn more about developing a Core Purpose statement for your purpose-driven organization.


Why Core Purpose Matters

Your Core Purpose will keep you on track as you make strategic moves, ensuring your team is aligned to a common reason for being.  Review your Core Purpose at every Annual Planning Session to keep it front of mind as you plan another successful year.

Knowing your Core Purpose will enable you to hire and retain the RIGHT people to execute for growth in your business and help you achieve the goals of your 3-year strategic plan (examples).

It doesn’t just describe the organization’s output or target customers; it captures the soul of the organization.  This is literally the company's purpose to be in existence.

How to Identify Core Purpose: 5 Whys

  1. Start with WHAT you do. Write the statement on a flip chart or white board: "We make X products or deliver Y services”
  2. Next, ask "WHY is that important?" Write the answer on the flip chart or white board.
  3. Ask the WHY question again and again (5 times - Don’t cheat and stop with 3 whys!), each time brainstorming and charting your answers. 
  4. After a few whys, you’ll find that you’re getting down to the fundamental purpose of the organization.
  5. Review all the different answers to the WHY question with your team, searching for the answer that resonates most, generates some passion, and gets to the heart of your organization's Core Purpose.

Seven Questions to Test & Refine Your Core Purpose

  1. Do you find this purpose personally inspiring, and does it make you feel proud of your company? (yes!)
  2. Can you envision this purpose being as valid 100 years from now as it is today? (yes!)
  3. Does this purpose help you decide which opportunities and activities to say YES to and which ones to say NO to? (yes!)
  4. Is this purpose authentic (not merely words on paper that “sound nice”), and would it be greeted with enthusiasm rather than cynicism by your people? (yes!)
  5. Does it describe your products, services, or customer segment? (no – that’s Brand Promise!)
  6. Is it only about making money? (no – those are targets!)
  7. Is it about achieving specific long-term business goals? (no– that’s a BHAG!)

Learn More About Core Purpose and Defining Your Strategy

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