The more I meet and speak with people working hard in organizations, the less I see a “9 to 5” mentality. Work is evolving in the 21st century, and I’m seeing more people who meld their professional and personal lives.

Separating who we are at work and who we are in the world and at home is becoming an artificial divide. Your personal purpose influences your work purpose, and vice versa.

A company’s purpose starts with its leaders and works its way throughout the organization. It shows up in employee and customer experiences.

An inspirational business purpose often lies hidden within an organization. As a business matures, its purpose evolves and shifts. The following suggestions will help you identify and articulate key elements:

  1. Revisit your organization’s heritage (past history).
  2. Review successes. At what does the business excel?
  3. Start asking “why?”
  4. What won’t your organization do? Review false starts and failures.
  5. Talk to employees.
  6. Talk to top leaders.
  7. Talk to high performers.
  8. Talk to customers.
  9. Follow your heart.

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your calling. ~ Aristotle

A business purpose is informed by what the world needs. When you build an organization with a concrete purpose in mind — one that fills a real need in the marketplace — performance will follow.

Ask the following questions:

  • Why does your organization do what it does?
  • Why is this important to the people you serve?
  • Why does your organization’s existence matter?
  • What is its functional benefit to customers and constituents?
  • What is the emotional benefit to them?
  • What is the ultimate value to your customer?
  • What are you deeply passionate about?
  • At what can you excel?
  • What drives your economic engine?

Mission statements used to have a purpose. The purpose was to force management to make hard decisions about what the company stood for. A hard decision means giving up one thing to get another.  ~ Seth Godin, marketing expert