In clearly defining and understanding your purpose the first consideration is elevation. That is how you can elevate your purpose. Before doing this, however, you need to identify what you are truly in the business of doing. Within Powered By Change (PBC), the first sub-blade in the Purpose blade is Elevation. It is the first for a reason. If a company is not able to elevate then it is absolutely limiting its ability to innovate and adapt to change. This is really about finding the higher perspective of what the company is truly in the business of doing and utilising this view to survey the landscape for new, exciting and unexplored opportunities.
To give some concrete examples of an elevated purpose and potential opportunities arising from this will help to provide context and understanding around what could be seen as an obscure or difficult concept to grasp. Firstly, one could argue that Google isn’t in the business of providing a search engine. Rather, its elevated purpose is to organise the world’s information and make this accessible. Taken from this perspective it is easy to see how Google has launched Google Travel as an online travel agency, moved into the smartphone market and are offering financial services amongst other things. In relation to Google Travel, the result of this is that companies such as Expedia, TripAdvisor and Bookings.com, previously some of the biggest Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), are now losing out to Google Travel as it is promoted in the first spot for hotel and flights searches in Google which is used for the majority of all online searches. As a result of elevating its purpose, Google is now unencumbered in regard to how it can innovate, diversify and change. Whilst some of the other OTAs are at risk of being disrupted altogether as they haven’t elevated their purpose beyond being in the business of providing OTA services.
Interestingly, there are many companies that could elevate their purpose higher than they have and innovate far more than they do but they fail to do so. An example of this could be Wonderbra which I believe is really in the business of promoting self-confidence. Looking at what they do from this perspective, it is possible to start to see other opportunities or avenues the company could pursue that are outside of simply making underwear. For example, in light of the elevated perspective, the company could create an academy aimed at helping people develop higher levels of self-confidence. Another example is Nokia. If they were really in the business of connecting people they could have created something like Facebook which does just that. But they didn’t. Both of these examples demonstrate that if those companies elevated their purpose their opportunities for innovation would have increased exponentially and not have limited them to the business they thought they were in.
Once you elevate your purpose and truly understand what you do the opportunity for innovation and growth is almost limitless. In addition, you are no longer bound to the confines of the industry in which you currently operate. This provides the ability to be industry agnostic. It also opens up the space for competitive advantage as you will be operating in a space with few competitors but boundless opportunity.
Elevation is not a one-time exercise. It is highly unlikely that you will elevate to your higher perspective immediately. Instead, it will be an iterative process that takes deliberate practice and commitment to doing it. However, over time your ability to elevate will increase. As shown in the diagram below, an initial elevated perspective will probably be around point A on the curve where there is greater opportunity available but a large number of competitors.
However, over time as you practice and implement this more you will start to move upward along the opportunity curve through points B to E. At point E you will have reached an elevated perspective where opportunities are much greater and there are fewer competitors. This enables the creation of competitive advantage. By finding what it is that you actually do in a space with a lot of opportunity and few competitors is the point of elevation. Ultimately, it provides a positive impact on revenue whilst opening up many new opportunities for innovation to ensure ongoing perpetual success. Which is incredibly important especially in times of significant change.
In terms of actually going about elevating, there are 3 key steps to undertake:
- Describe what your company does without using the words you normally would.
- Apply this to other industries and consider where else could you add value, even if it would be outside of the industry you’re currently in.
- Identify what gaps or problems would be left if you stopped doing what you do.
The elevated purpose is then derived on the basis of these three activities. Failure to elevate will lead to lower success than what is otherwise possible, in addition to limiting the ability to innovate, transform, grow and adapt to change. This has a direct impact on a company’s ability to deal with disruption and change and increases the risk of disintermediation. Elevation needs to be practised continually. The PBC solution provides the tools needed to elevate and design your business for ongoing perpetual success, especially in such times of change.
- Elevation is what everyone inside the company is in the business of doing.
- The ability to innovate and adapt to change is directly proportional to the ability to elevate. If you are unable to elevate you are limiting your chance to grow.
- An elevated purpose is agnostic to industries and provides an unbridled potential to innovate. This creates a competitive advantage, improves chances of success and leads to higher commercial opportunities.
For more information on how the PBC solution can help your business feel free to get in touch, we would love to talk with you: