How to Identify your Core Purpose

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How to Identify your Core Purpose

What is your business’ Core Purpose?

Core Purpose creates clarity.  It defines what your business does, what it stands for.  Your Core Purpose answers “Why do we exist?“.  An effective Core Purpose Statement provides clear direction for leaders and inspires teams to align with that cause.

DOES YOUR WORKPLACE BUZZ WITH A REAL SENCE OF TEAM?  

Do your decisions consistently move you in a clear, focussed direction?  

If not, you have not identified your Core Purpose!

Core Purpose answers the ‘WHY’ of the organisation.  It:

  • provides focus for your employees,
  • creates a feeling of ownership with your customers and
  • Gives leadership a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

It is a far greater call than simply ‘make money’.  Yes net profit, ROI, a sense of achievement do stir some excitement deep within.  However the true motivator is you want to use the money to ‘do something’ that is worthwhile.  That greater ‘something’ is expressed in your Core Purpose.

Perhaps it is ‘making a difference to the lives of those you love’.  Examples include ‘A Third Place – between work and home’ (Starbucks), ‘Happiness’ (Disney) or ‘Robin Hood’ (Wal-Mart)  Essentially it is the thing that drives you to do what you do.  The thing that causes excitement to burn like a wildfire in your belly when you talk about it! The reason people will work harder and go the extra mile within the company.   It is the reason people connect with your company.

This ‘focus‘ as referred to by Gino Wickman has also been termed as ‘the voice‘ in Stephen R. Covey’s “The 8th Habit”, and ‘the Hedgehog Concept‘ in Jim Collin’s “Good to Great”.

What does a good Core Purpose look like?

Jim Collins states that a good expression of a Core Purpose has five characteristics:

  1. Must inspire to those inside the company.
  2. Has to be as valid to those in the company 100 years from now as it is today.
  3. Needs to encourage thought as to what you could be doing but not doing at the moment.
  4. Provides clear direction including what you should not do.
  5. Must be authentic to your company!

When defining your Core Purpose, be aware to avoid stating your Brand Promise eg. To provide the best service and save them time & money etc.  Go further than this and keep questioning until you get to the point of “to help people succeed”. Remember, it is not a marketing slogan.


  1. Customer  (the purpose of serving)
  2. Industry (passion for their 'thing')
  3. Greater Cause (making others happy)
  4. Community (pride in a location)
  5. Employees (helping others)

How to Identify your Core Purpose

In his book “Scaling Up”, Verne Harnish advises to look for a central word or idea that drives you all to do what you do. For Example, at a school it might be: ‘engagement’.   Expand upon this word or concept to provide the clarity required… such as ‘to engage people so that learning becomes a lifelong pursuit.’

Initially, ask the question “what do we do?” and then ask “why”.  Go through the process of the “5 Whys” (why do we do this, why does this matter, etc). Keep asking this question until you get to your version of “to save the world” and take it back one step.

Systems Strategy offers mentoring and advice through this process to help businesses and leadership teams identify their Core Purpose and create systems around this to drive performance.  If you’d like more clarity on how to define your business’ purpose or you’d like assistance refining your culture, setting goals, identifying metrics, KPIs and performance systems to improve your business’ production and profits, please contact us on the phone number or email listed on the contact us page.

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About Bruce

I’m ‘The Systems Guy’!  I add value to businesses like yours through the development and implementation of systems and measuring performance.

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