I recently came across a purpose statement that almost took my breath away with its simplicity and (dare I say) poetry:
We invent the future of flight
We lift people up
And bring them home safely
Then, a few days later, I was at a business breakfast and the ‘noble purpose’ came up in conversation.
Apparently in leadership circles it’s no longer enough to have a mission statement. A Noble Purpose will really get you places. It makes your staff feel much better about what they do every day.
Plus, a really good noble purpose identifies the things you do that have value for customers, and by focusing on that (instead of increasing shareholder dividends, for example) you might just become more successful.
Yes, it all sounds a bit lofty. However, that statement (which is for GE Aviation if you’ve been trying to guess) is a pretty good example of a noble purpose. It’s inspiring for staff, and the words ‘jet engine’ get no mention – because what their customers are actually buying is the confidence of knowing their planes will take off and land safely.
If you’re struggling to define your noble purpose, a copywriter can help you articulate it. And the best way to start is by asking your customers.
For example, I regularly write case studies for an Australian agricultural technology company. If you ask them what they sell, they would talk about ‘remote monitoring and automation equipment.’ But when I interview their customers, they talk about ‘peace of mind.’
They describe how they no longer have the heartache of losing cattle because the pump broke down on a trough 200km away, and they can now sleep at night because they don’t have to go out at 3am to open the irrigation gates.
Stories like these can help you define your noble purpose.
However, there’s a catch, because I have a sneaking suspicion the typical noble purpose will end up gathering dust on a shelf. You still have to fulfil your noble promise.
So, if you’re a life insurance company selling ‘protection for the people you love’ or a supermarket selling ‘the ability to plan and make nutritious family meals’, that’s fantastic. I’ll be even more inspired when I see it in action.