What’s your next move? We’ve developed a set of easy-to-use diagnostic tools to help you move your business forward. Learn More

Corporate Leadership Starts With Purpose

By Ryan Rieches

In an earlier post titled “Do companies still need long-tem visions,” I provided our viewpoint and a brief definition for each component of corporate visioning: Purpose, Vision, Mission, Values, Brand Positioning and how they all work together. Now I’d like to go deeper into each of these components through a multi-staged blog series.


BrandingBusiness led four organizations through the process of developing these core statements. Let’s start with Purpose; our definition, along with some examples and the process we use to develop powerful and compelling statements.

PURPOSE is at the center.

A purpose statement answers – WHY do we exist?

Purpose is bigger and deeper than any business goal. When an organization has a clear purpose, it attracts talented personnel, strategic alliances, and loyal customers.

I am finding that in many cases, the Purpose statement is the one that creates the deepest emotional connection with the audience.

Here are some examples that I like because they are simple, direct and inspiring.

  • To preserve and improve human life. –  Merck
  • To make people happy. –  Walt Disney
  • To solve unsolved problems innovatively. –  3M
  • To give unlimited opportunity to women. –  Mary Kay Cosmetics

Some guiding criteria when evaluating a compelling Purpose Statement:

  • Non competitive – other organizations could have a similar version
  • Statement could be relevant forever – might never be attainable
  • Creates a desire for collegial teamwork – bigger than the individual
  • So motivating that people are excited to get up in morning and charge the day
  • Speaks to the human SOUL

The last two thoughts are the ones that resonate most with me when evaluating how successful or memorable a Purpose Statement could be.


A method that I have found useful in developing Purpose:

  • Start with a descriptive statement and then break it down to the core
  • Ask – Why is that important? Continue to ask until you find the true emotional connection
  • You might have to ask “Why” many times to get to the true core
  • Keep it simple and don’t try to put too much into it; you have other statements to complete the idea
  • Create multiple options to consider as you develop the corresponding statements


Questions to ask during the process:

  • Why is it important for this organization to exist?
  • What would be lost if this organization ceased to exist?
  • Beyond money, why would anyone dedicate their precious time, energy and passion for this organization

Although this post only speaks to Purpose, please keep in mind that the statements must work together and build upon each other to offer the biggest idea. I like to start with a number of Purpose options, do the same for Vision and then start to tie them together.

A similar overview of Vision will be in my next post.

I welcome your feedback.