Why do you exist? Sometimes we rarely ask ourselves, what is our organisations purpose? This needs to be ambitious. In 2015, we encouraged Irish people to have conversations about equality, and not simply to vote yes in the marriage equality referendum. A broad purpose allowed us to be flexible in communicating with people, while having a focus on action. Everything we did on Straight Up for Equality was designed around this purpose and acted as a filter for not running with certain tactical ideas.
Ideally, it is best to stay away from organisation-specific goals - e.g. "sell online advertising space" - and to think in terms of wider context - "to organise the world's information."
A good purpose statement is a tool for use and mobilising people to get work done.
Insight and Idea
Our purpose - Creating Conversations about Equality - was at the centre of our insight about Irish voters and our idea - Straight Up for Equality.
Things are not that complicated, but we always need to ask what truths exist about our offering (product or service truth), for people (human truth) and in our society (cultural truth). Developing a true insight helps fuel a powerful idea and one that is not simply rooted in a short-term notion or fad.
One of the key challenges which faced Marriage Equality in Ireland was that the issue did not have an impact on the majority of Irish people. While many cared about their friends and family, many straight people did not necessarily engage on LGBT issues beyond causal conversation.
This insight would inform our purpose.
This large majority of voters simply didn't engage with the subject of same-sex marriage, and it would be crucial that this group would be able to relate to the core reasons for same-sex marriage and in turn take action by voting in the referendum.
What are your hard truths?
Understanding your purpose is based on hard truths. It was never easy to accept that some people simply didn't care whether others were allowed to marry or not, especially when many of these people were married themselves. While 62% of Ireland came out and voted in the Marriage Referendum, 38% did not cast a vote. It was always going to be vital that we acknowledged the truth that not everyone would be engaged, let alone convinced.
This truth provided the challenge to get people talking about what equality meant to them.
Key questions to ask your organisation:
- Do you have a broad organisation purpose - and is it communicated to everyone?
- Can you develop insight based on human, cultural and/or product truths?
- How can this insight fuel long term ideas which have measurable impact?