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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Fidelity to a Worthy Purpose


Purpose Clarity


This month’s print edition of HBR makes mention of a new study supporting ‘the purpose-profit’ connection (p32).  The study looks at the relationship between strong purpose and public company financial performance. I believe the insights apply to all organizations – That is, any organization with a strong purpose will see increased performance.

The study finds there is a strong link between PURPOSE and PERFORMANCE (or, in my adjusted language, IMPACT). Researchers make a distinction in two types of high purpose organizations. The first is what it calls ‘high camaraderie’ where everyone simply has a sense that they are doing something great, TOGETHER. The second type of purpose is ‘high clarity’ from management. This is noted as the type where managers excel at translating purpose into action.

The statistically significant performance bump was only found with organizations that have ‘purpose clarity.’

As a leader, think not just about PURPOSE, but ‘PURPOSE CLARITY.’  To help you with this, I would bridge some of the findings of the research with some of the For Impact teaching. Think about PURPOSE as an anchor for your STORY. And, by story, I don’t mean a narrative with a beginning-middle-end. I mean how you FRAME the organization.

A GREAT STORY…

  • Is anchored in hope-filled purpose (Start with WHY!)
  • Simplifies WHAT you do.
  • Serves as a litmus for action.

Some of the writing in the research study further supports thinking about placing PURPOSE inside of STORY.  “The company’s primary purpose – the real one, which isn’t necessarily the one written in the official documents or etched in the wall plaques – [that] guides its actions and decisions.”

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Gartenberg, Claudine Madras and Prat, Andrea and Serafeim, George, Corporate Purpose and Financial Performance (June 30, 2016). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 16-69. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2840005

Quote of the Day


MaryLauretta-072916

The Vision Must Live In One Person’s Head


The vision for your organization must live in one person’s head.

The vision can’t sit with a committee. Many can contribute to the building of a clear vision but, there must be one person that holds that vision. This ultimate vision keeper could be the CEO or it could be the Board Chair.

We use this nugget often as the first step toward strategic clarity – many leaders don’t realize they’re trying to juggle or navigate 3-4 visions.

The ultimate vision keeper is often trying to make room for others – inviting them to contribute to the vision. This can be great, so long as it’s clear that there will be one person that ultimately owns the vision.

Start the New Year on a “HIGH”


A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

30,000′ is an airplane’s cruising altitude – plenty of blue sky, a great view, etc. At 30,000′, our brain even seems to work better!

At this altitude, it’s all about your vision, your aspirations, your raison d’etre. It’s a place to think and talk about your mission, your meaning, your values.

At 30,000’ leaders and visionaries have the ability to see the horizon. Obviously, you can’t do that from 3’. At 30,000’ you can see the curve of the earth, the rising and setting of the sun. The perspective at 30,000’ is unmatched. This is where you can think about making a “dent in the universe” and communicate how you are CHANGING THE WORLD!

Use this framing device to think and answer some questions at 30,000’:

  • Why do you what you do – To what end?
  • What is your raison d’etre (or reason for existence?)
  • What are you best in the world at?
  • What would you do with $1M or $10M (or X times your current operating budget?)
  • What makes you unique or how are you collaborating to solve a big social problem?
  • What gets you really fired up in the morning? (About your impact!)

Use the answers to these questions to develop your Message at 30,000’ – Your big picture purpose statement, the meaning of your work – Something we call the Blue Box Message.

“The Blue Box”:

  • Represents the starting point for everything
  • Frames a conversation at the highest level
  • Is simple (not full of fancy prose)
  • Is articulated clearly, concisely and compellingly

Here are some examples of great Blue Box Messages:

Changing the lives of the visually impaired worldwide.

Transforming the aging experience.

To provide the finest liberal arts education in the country.

Breaking the circle of poverty by changing the system.

Transforming Columbus: Inspiring the entrepreneurs of the future.

Strong Healthy Kids, Strong Healthy Families, Strong Healthy Communities.

We provide the opportunity for disadvantaged women and children to transform their lives.

We want safe water for EVERYONE FOREVER.

To make reading matter and change the story for low-income students and families in San Diego County.

Redefine Interprofessional Education. Redefine Healthcare Delivery. For Better Patient Health Outcomes.

Join us tomorrow for more on Simplifying your Message.

What I Would Do If I Had $1M


My copy of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was published by Fawcett World Library, 1969.

Based on Napoleon Hill’s famed Laws of Success, Think and Grow Rich represents the distilled wisdom of distinguished men of great wealth and achievement. Andrew Carnegie’s magic formula for success was the direct inspiration for this book. Hill’s “secrets” are founded in universal law and principles.

Originally published in 1937, it has been characterized as one of the most influential books of all time in pointing the way to personal achievement.

W. Clement Stone wrote “more men and women have been motivated to achieve success because of reading Think and Grow Rich than any other book written by a living author.”

Following is a story Napoleon Hill uses to underscore a number of the key principles of Think and Grow Rich:

  • Definiteness of Purpose
  • Faith
  • Imagination
  • Desire
  • Persistence
  • Organized Planning to Achieve a Purpose

The following story is quoted from the book. The (parenthesis) are mine – Tom

While Dr. Frank W. Gunsaulus was going through college, he observed many defects in our educational system. These were defects that he believed he could correct if he were the head of a college. (His challenge!) He made up his mind to organize a new college in which he would carry out his ideas without being handicapped by orthodox methods of education. (Creativity, out of the box thinking, unorthodox!!!)

He needed a million dollars (Specificity) to put this project across. Where was he to lay his hands on so large a sum of money? That was the question that absorbed most of this ambitious young preacher’s thoughts. He turned it over and over in his mind until it became a consuming obsession with him. Dr. Gunsaulus recognized, as do all who succeed in life, that definiteness of purpose is the starting point. He also recognized that definiteness of purpose takes on animation, life, and power when backed by a burning desire to translate that purpose into material equivalent.

In his own words:

“For nearly two years, I had been thinking but I had done nothing but think! The time had come for action!

“I made up my mind then and there that I would get the necessary million dollars within a week. How? I was not concerned about that. The main thing of importance was the decision to get the money within a specific time, a strange feeling of assurance came over me — such as I had never before experienced. Something inside me seemed to say, “Why didn’t you reach that decision a long time ago? The money was waiting for you all the time!”

“Things began to happen in a hurry. I called the newspapers and announced that I would preach a sermon the following morning entitled ‘What I Would Do If I Had a Million Dollars’.

“I went to work on the sermon immediately. But I must tell you frankly, the task was not difficult because I had been preparing this sermon for almost two years.”

“Long before midnight, I finished writing the sermon. I went to bed and slept with a feeling of confidence, for I could see myself already in possession of a million dollars. (Visualization!)

“The next morning I rose early, went into the bathroom, read the sermon, and then knelt and asked that my sermon might come to the attention of someone who would supply the needed money. In my excitement, I walked out without my sermon and did not discover the oversight until I was in my pulpit and ready to begin delivering it.”

“It was too late to go back for my notes, and what a blessing that I couldn’t. Instead, my own subconscious mind yielded the material I needed. When I arose to begin my sermon, I closed my eyes and spoke with all my heart and soul of my dreams. I not only talked to my audience, but I fancied that I also talked to God. I told what I would with a million dollars if that amount were placed in my hands. I described the plan I had in mind for organizing a great educational institution, where young people would learn to do practical things, and at the same time, develop their minds. (The Ask!!!)

“When I finished and sat down, a man slowly arose form his seat about three rows from the rear and made his way toward the pulpit. I wondered what he was going to do. He came into the pulpit, extended his hand, and said, ‘Reverend, I liked your sermon. I believe you can do everything you said you would if you had a million dollars. To prove that I believe in you and your sermon, if you will come to my office tomorrow morning, (The Response!!!) I will give you the million dollars. My name is Philip D. Armour.”

Young Gunsaulus went to Mr. Armour’s office and the million dollars was presented to him. With the money, he founded the Armour Institute of Technology (now known as the Illinois Institute of Technology).