A purpose driven business

The previous Blog in our series on innovation I told my own painful lesson on the critical importance of culture and values.  Without a clearly understood set of values your business will be at risk in times of significant stress.  For business owners planning for your succession this is key to growth.

As we toiled to get our succession planning service into the market we had learnt this lesson the hard way ourselves.  Having now understood our culture and values there was still a key piece of the jigsaw puzzle missing.

As we had debated our brand and the simple question had arisen: how did we want to grow our business.

A conference at the Grosvenor House Hotel and a work session at Cranfield University were to provide the answer.

In February 2013 I was one of 500 delegates at the Grosvenor House Hotel.  The conference had been organised by Vistage and it was the 25 anniversary of the date this US organisation set up in the UK. To mark the occasion Vistage had flown in an A list business speaker by the name of Simon Sinek.  I had heard nothing of Sinek before his talk but afterwards I read his two best sellers: First Ask Why and second Why Leaders Eat Last.

The event was electrifying.  Sinek was explaining in terms of evolutionary biology (and the ancient world of the tribe) how capitalism had lost its way.  How enterprises needed leaders who could articulate the purpose of the organisations they led.  Your “Why” could not be to create a money making empire.

In the summer of 2014, I ended up at the Cranfield University on their Business Growth Programme.  Whilst I struggled with the Programme (it was I concluded structured for businesses at a different stage in their development), there was one extraordinary session.  Each of us was asked to draw a picture describing the current state of our business.

I drew a picture of a tree.  The roots of that tree reflected the community of Witney and West Oxfordshire in which I had been based for 14 years.  As I pondered the roots I sensed the importance to my happiness and sense of purpose of being an active participant in that community.

My instincts seemed to be telling me that a legal business rooted in the local community of Witney was what would make me happy.  I have become convinced of the importance of the local legal services in local communities after a number of difficult but important local projects.

Our team is all very focused on the local community in which we work and a growing sense of purpose is evident.

The necessary steps for a happy cohesive team are now apparent:-

  • Be clear on your culture and values and measure those values when you recruit
  • Be clear on your purpose: complex legal problem solving to help individuals, organisations and communities flourish

Quite how we will achieve our purpose remains to be seen.  But with a team with a shared culture, values, and purpose we now have our foundations well and truly laid.  We are ready to grow!

The painful but wonderful lessons learned will, we hope and expect, mean we are much better equipped to help the business owners we represent with their succession planning.