Dr. Pero Mićić

PURPOSE? WHY? MISSION? What is what? What do you really need?

Everyone tells you to find your Why. And others tell you that you should definitely determine a Purpose. Then again others come up with mission statements. Somehow it all sounds the same. And do you really need something like that for your business? For your life? And if so, which one? Just one or all of it? Invest a few minutes now and you’ll have clarity on those confusions once and for all. I clarify Mission, Why and Purpose for you.

https://youtu.be/SVw_z3US3jM

For 30 years I have been developing the future strategies of leading and well-known companies with my team at FutureManagementGroup AG. Based on this experience, I want to suggest how you should understand, deal with and use Why, Purpose and Mission in a pragmatic and practical way.

The mission is to describe the actual reason for being. Of a job, as well of a company. The mission provides the answer to the most important question: What are we here for? In a well-formulated mission, you have all the five elements you need to determine your reason for being in your job or business.

First, there’s the drive. That’s the motive, the conviction, the energy, the passion, that may even be the anger out of which you pursue your profession or your business. The famous Why is exactly that, the drive.

  • Ferdinand Porsche founded his company with the following statement: “In the beginning, I looked around but couldn’t find the car I dreamed of. So I decided to build it myself.” He felt a lack, a deficit, that he wanted to fill for himself.
  • Steve Jobs believed that computers had to be very easy to use, that they had to be beautiful, even the circuit board. Jobs always had the drive to be different. Think different. He said it was cooler to be a pirate than a member of the Navy. That why Apple is the way it is.
  • This works for small companies as well. If I may bring in my own example: I work out of a deep conviction that people and humankind are better off if they think about their future earlier and more and act on it more consistently. Yes, I even work out of a feeling of anger that people are so short-sighted.
  • Mind you, all this works for you as a person as well. The principles are the same, be it for a large corporation or just for yourself.

The Why that so many talk about is clearly the cause, the motive, the origin of the energy. Simon Sinek, the originator of the idea of the Why, the Golden Circle, also says that the Why is the particular conviction, the origin of the energy with which a company is run. The Why doesn’t come from your future and does’nt necessarily describe the future, rather it comes from your past. The Why is not the whatfore, but the whence. I call it, more generally, the drive.

In your mission, ideally you also name your target customer group. For whom do you invest your energy and passion? This is not a mandatory element of your mission, but it is at least implicitly part of it that you clearly have in mind for whom you are using your energy. For me, that’s the leaders, the entrepreneurs and executives.

Your mission absolutely must include a clear promise of value and impact. That’s the most important part. What do you cause for your customers? What are your customers really paying for? People don’t really pay for products, not for services, not for solutions, not for hours or days, they only ever pay for emotional effects. These effects, by the way, hardly ever change, they are the constants in business, even 20 or 50 years from now. People pay to enjoy music, today by streaming, in the past by CD or records. They pay to get from A to B, today still with their own car, tomorrow by driverless robo-taxis or even simply by video conference, in order to get the emotional effect of meeting people, without a car, train or plane. The emotional effect remains the same, but the solutions keep changing fundamentally.

  • Sonos generates the effect of setting up and operating a music system wirelessly and conceivably easily.
  • Amazon promises the effect of the easiest shopping experience with the world’s best customer service.
  • Google, as their core business, offers the effect of being comprehensively informed quickly.
  • In a small company like ours: With our work, we ensure that companies again have or continue to have good prospects for the future and that leaders can lead their team more effectively and more easily with a motivating, convincing and robust image of the future.

The fourth element of your mission is your solution promise. This is the specific way in which you will achieve the promised effects. The effects are constant, but the solutions change in detail. Therefore, don’t get too specific about products and services. Describe your solution promise only in principle, so it can hold over a longer term.

  • Like IKEA offers self-build as a solution or
  • how Tesla delivers an integrated chain of solutions from the pure electric car to the solar roof. These are constant long-term solution promises. Even if the products change in detail, the solution promise remains.
  • Our solution promises are highly effective programs for developing and implementing foresight and future strategies.

And then you define your contribution to society in your mission. How is your work or business good for society and humankind? How are you making the world a better place? This social contribution, THAT is the Purpose! Of course, you can also start with the Purpose and then develop the other four elements based on that. What are examples for a purpose?

  • SpaceX is making humanity multiplanetary. In the long run, this is perhaps the greatest Purpose in the world, because at some point humanity will have to go beyond Earth, because of Asteroids.
  • CLAAS, known for its combine harvesters, is helping to provide food for the world’s growing population by supporting professional farmers.
  • Small companies too profit from a powerful purpose: Through our work in future management, we benefit society by helping leaders make more future-intelligent decisions. In this way, we help to reduce unnecessary suffering and to increase the quality of life for all.

Occasionally you will hear that Purpose is a company’s great raison d’être, the reason for being. That Mission, on the other hand, only describes what a company specifically does. That’s about half correct. Why should you separate your social contribution from your mission? There is no logical reason for it. It is better to link your activities directly to a social value you provide. Then the purpose, the social contribution, is an integral part of your mission. Then you and your team create social value every day.

Therefore, describe your raison d’être in one coherent and compelling overall statement of your mission.

I tend to believe that the term Mission has simply become too boring for many people, or too old fashioned, so they are now jumping on Purpose. Consultants in particular have now recognized Purpose development as a business area. But don’t be fooled. Determining your purpose has always been the purpose of a mission. Yes, you can now call Purpose what used to be called Mission. Yeah, all good.

But anyone who now tells you that Mission and Purpose are two completely different things has not understood the whole thing, at least from my point of view. Why and Purpose are therefore neither opposites nor the same thing. Why and Purpose are the cornerstones of a good mission.

By the way, if you want to think profoundly about the future of your business, we’d be happy to do it together with you. Let’s talk.

Have a Bright Future!

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