This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2021 Growth Through People campaign.
Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2021 this involves 8 free online workshops taking place throughout March, and a virtual Growth Through People conference on 30th March. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content such as this.
Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Aston University, BMet College and the University of Birmingham’s Work Inclusivity Research Centre - all workshops are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend Growth Through People workshops here, and the Growth Through People conference here.
This is a story about Paul, someone just like you in many ways. He runs a software business with a team of 15 people. He is a successful and experienced leader, and he loves his industry (most of the time).
A couple of years ago, Paul found he had a problem. “We were producing lots of stuff but struggling to create passion for anything we were working on. Nothing we were making was connecting with customers and we were losing money. It was exhausting.”
Paul knew that changing the company’s direction wouldn’t be easy (“We’d struggled for years to make anything stick.”) but he also knew that things couldn’t carry on as they were, without him or the team burning out.
One morning, over a couple of coffees with PRPSFL, Paul worked through an assessment exercise and realised that what was missing was Purpose: “We needed to do something with more meaning.”
Paul called his company together for a Purpose Discovery project, run by PRPSFL. At the end of an exhilarating day’s work they had an authentic “Purpose Statement” and a set of Values that the team could rally around, and that Paul could use to run his business.
Their Purpose was what Simon Sinek calls a “Why”, a reason for the business to exist, beyond just making money. Sinek says “People don’t buy What you do or How you do it, they buy Why you do it.” Paul’s experience backs this up.
Today, Purpose drives every decision Paul makes: “The Purpose stayed with me, I don’t need to think about it.”
Team engagement is high. People can see that the work they are doing matters and is different from the work done by competitors. Only one person has left the team since the project, a big reduction in turnover.
Paul is a more confident leader, making brave and transformative decisions for the business. “We’d suppressed an idea for years because we didn’t think it was commercial enough. We thought that to make money we had to go where the money already was.” Purpose gave Paul the courage to pursue the idea, an educational game. He had the team build it and pitched it to investors – for the first time, starting with the company’s Purpose and how the new game helped to fulfil it – and successfully raised funding.
A year on, the company is performing brilliantly: their new game has been played by a quarter of a million people and won Best Game at the UK App awards in October 2020.
The results have astonished Paul. “I get goosebumps thinking about it. We’re growing – still – and making money.” And he knows where it stems from. “I genuinely do not believe we’d be where we are today without the Purpose. The energy in the team shifted that day in May 2019. It’s not been plain sailing but we’ve never looked back.”
It’s a common refrain. Businesses with Purpose perform better, because Purpose attracts, aligns and motivates people to do extraordinary work; and connects you with customers. Purpose could transform your business and, like Paul, the effort it takes you to run it.