How to live up to your purpose - learnings from big brands
Last week a group of brand and HR leaders from some of the best brands gathered at Wagamama noodle labs in Dean Street, an innovation kitchen where they test everything from their menu to their uniform and new technology. All sat on one long table, filled with bowls of noodles (and a few cocktails), we discussed what it takes to be authentically ‘purpose as usual’. If you’ve been keeping up to date with our other blogs, you’ll have seen that we recently helped Wagamama to define their purpose. But what’s next? How do they live up to it? How do they tell this story externally? Hearing what other businesses have done, here’s our five key takeaways from an intelligent and insightful evening…
1. Lead with purpose
We all understand the influence that leadership can have on a business; by role modelling the right behaviours, empowering others to act and galvanising the business around a unified message. At Facebook they have an online Values Q&A every Friday hosted by the leadership team (including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg) where they answer questions in the business about living up the values and take accountability for their actions. Whilst at BT they are seeing the impact that just one person in leadership position can have – leading from the front, taking decisive action and inspiring others to also respond.
2. Be honest & transparent
Consumers have increasingly high expectations and many businesses are struggling to respond. However, the businesses that are honest and transparent, even if it’s about a problem, are landing well with consumers. Both Twitter and The Telegraph agreed the importance of staying true to what they believe and communicating that message openly. At Twitter they align internally on what they believe and make sure it is reality before telling that story to the outside world. The Telegraph were the first in media to publicly share their Gender pay gap report, despite all the work they have yet to do, because they wanted to be transparent and take ownership of the challenge.
3. Maintain balance & simplicity
To land your purpose internally or externally it’s crucial to make it as simple as possible. Once it’s landed, to be able to live it you need a balance of what’s right for the business, what’s right for consumers and what’s right for your people. BT shared how they’ve opted to move quickly and make focused impacts, by delivering on proof points rather than hatching a big roadmap. Facebook’s internal communication is all about simplicity, if it can’t be said in five or less points then it doesn’t get shared.
4. Take ownership
Living your purpose as a business isn’t just about what you do internally, it’s also about reflecting it across your supply chain and the other businesses you interact with. Selfridges shared their belief around accountability for the brands that they choose to stock or sell. As a result they’ve stopped selling rare skins, which has sent a big message to brands, and customers. Twitter faced a different challenge with abuse and harassment taking place on their platform. To address this, they drove change from the inside by engaging with female employee groups and understanding what improvements would drive change.
5. Get practical
Often overlooked but equally as impactful are taking practical actions that get into the plumbing of the business and drive change below the line. BT shared their approach of completing a risk assessment with heat mapping to understand the areas that require more support at a local level. At Facebook they apply KPIs to their values, making them a core part of their development framework and recognition across the business.
We had a great evening – big thanks to the Wagamama team for their amazing hospitality and all the guests for sharing their stories. We’re looking forward to organising more of these in the future and we’d love to hear from you if you’d be interested in joining – let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org