Building Companies on Purpose

“Whoever tells the stories defines the culture”  Dr. David Walsh

In our most recent “Values and Purpose in Action breakfast session, John Ledy, CEO of Innovize shared his experience of finding ways to communicate and drive  values and purpose into action.

Innovize is a medical manufacturing company whose purpose is “To create a culture and products that improve people’s lives. John shared some great ideas for how they have a plan for daily, quarterly and annual storytelling. They even create a “purpose book” where every associate shares a story!

Companies that put their words into action tells stories about what they are doing and why it matters. Sharing stories is a powerful way to help everyone feel part of something special.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the three bricklayers:

“Once there were 3 bricklayers. Each one of them was asked what they were doing.

The first man answered gruffly, ‘I’m laying bricks.’

The second man replied, ‘I’m putting up a wall.’

But the third man said enthusiastically and with pride, ‘I’m building a cathedral.'” –Author Unknown

Creating a regular rhythm for sharing stories that exemplify your values and purpose is important for 3 reasons:

  1. People author their own stories. When employees look for examples to share they are making their own interpretive links. Creating expectations for sharing stories in daily huddles or weekly meetings keeps everyone awake and noticing the values and purpose.
  2. People make a connection. Just like the bricklayers, an employee could interpret their job as just a task or connected to something bigger. The practice of storytelling promotes seeing the bigger purpose and how they are a part.
  3. It keeps the Purpose Alive: By incorporating regular times for daily, quarterly and annual storytelling it promotes your employees staying awake and noticing things that keep your culture fresh.

Who is telling the stories in your company and what are they saying?