I ordered my first pair of TOMS Shoes today. I don’t really need another pair of shoes, but….
Though TOMS Shoes is a business, its underlying purpose is not to sell shoes, but to give away shoes. TOMS Shoes wants to make profit and they do make profit, but that is not what gives meaning and direction to their business. In fact, their Number One strategic goal is to give away shoes to children in need—One for One (one pair given for every one pair sold). Through April 2010 they have given away more 600,000 pairs. WOW!
Blake Mycoskie (the founder of TOMS) must have read chapter 3 of Built To Last at some point which says that a visionary company has a “…sense of purpose beyond just making money….”
This is a great example of the importance of Purpose in any organization. Purpose comes before anything—before vision, before strategy, before goal setting, before profit—especially before profit. In great and enduring businesses, profit is a “by-product,” not the main product. Jim Collins states it this way in Built To Last: “Profitability is a necessary condition for existence and a means to more important ends, but it is not the end in itself….”
Not just businesses, but churches can also lose sight of Purpose. It is easy for churches to become all about the pastor, or the denomination, or prominence, or facilities, or being the biggest. None of these purposes will sustain greatness.
If your organization is floundering, it may be because you and your team do not have clarity about why the organization even exists. This would be a great time to stop and re-evaluate everything, starting with “Why are we here in the first place?”
Purpose is the foundation upon which everything is built.
Does your organization have a firm foundation?
(Check out TOMS Shoes at www.TOMS.com)
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner