5 Steps for Creating a Noble Purpose Organization

When our firm first introduced Noble Purpose, we had a concept, but we weren’t very systematic in our methodology. It was more hit or miss, getting by where we could and figuring things out along the way with our clients. I’m grateful to those early adopters, with their help, we’ve now codified the process into five phases.

If you want to create a Noble Purpose organization, here’s your game plan:

1. Find Your Noble Purpose  – Start by answering the three big discovery questions.

  • How do you make a difference?
  • How do you do it differently from your competition?
  • On your best day, what do you love about your job?

    Clarify your customers’ identity, decide who is and who isn’t your customer, and prioritize your constituents. Next, informed by discovery questions and customer clarity, craft your Noble Sales Purpose (NSP), a declarative statement that becomes the gestalt of your organization. It’s Noble, in the service of others, Sales, based on what you actually sell. Purpose, your endgame. For example, two client NSP’s are “We care about delivering amazing travel experiences” (Flight Centre) and “We make transportation safer, faster and more reliable.” (Graham-White). Your NSP is the jumping off point for a Noble Purpose strategy that cascades down into every level of your organization.

2. Prove Your Noble Purpose – This step is about creating your narrative. Codify the impact you have on customers using stories and data. Identify compelling examples of how your purpose impacts people’s business and their lives. Personalize your message to explain why your purpose matters, to you, as the leader. Choose one or two Noble Purpose Accelerants. These are quick wins and decisions that let the rest of your organization know you’re serious about the process. For example, one client changed a pricing policy, another redid their customer reports.

3. Launch Your Noble Purpose – Now it’s time to win hearts and minds. In this phase you’ll activate Noble Purpose across departments. Each team should identify the impact they have on customers, and how their work fits into the larger whole. Individuals should have an opportunity to connect your purpose to their role, and their own aspirations for their jobs. This phase is about helping your team internalize your strategy. Don’t just repeat it, allow them to process it and apply it.

4. Animate Your Noble Purpose – This is where you bring your customers to life in every corner of your organization. Using visuals, stories and real live customers, make sure each department is exposed to actual customers in vivid compelling ways. For example, one of our clients has customer photos on the wall, another brings live customers into product development meetings. You’ll want to introduce your Noble Purpose narrative into your external marketing. It’s also time to start practicing fearlessly-forward decision making. Look at where you’re in alignment with Noble Purpose and where you’re not. Create a Start, Stop and Strengthen list.

5. Imbed Your Noble Purpose – This is how you create a system that lives beyond you. You’ll want to imbed your Noble Purpose into performance reviews, recruiting, and ongoing processes. It’s the least sexy part of the process, but it’s critical to keep it alive and gain competitive differentiation.

It’s a sequential process, although not always perfectly linear. My oldest daughter, a millennial who has worked with us on several big projects, says, “It’s like raising a child. You do a lot in the beginning. You keep teaching the same lessons, over and over again. Then eventually, you get to the point where you’re mentoring a self-sustaining entity.”