Does your business need a ‘lighthouse statement’?

Smart Company, May 29, 2017

The world really doesn’t need another kind of statement. Or does it?

Hijacked by the “do good” police, purpose today is wielded like a weapon. Coupled with the tepid consensus-driven visions and missions of corporates, these statements breed cynicism and lead me to think it’s time for a different kind of organisational guiding statement.

Because even when you find yourself mired in the quicksand of purpose, vision and mission, you still need a way to talk about identity.

Identity is the combination of purpose (what you care about) and values (what you believe). Today I’m focused on the purpose element, sitting as part of identity as the first element of my brand formula:

Historically purpose statements face inwards; they guide and help shape the actions and decisions of people inside an organisation. Recent times have seen the purpose statement also used as a de-facto positioning statement to talk to people outside an organisation — a role that has profound implications for the way the statement is considered, crafted and used. (To learn more about the role of purpose click here).

Enter a ‘lighthouse statement’.

Think about the role of the lighthouse. Enduring and sure, its beam sweeps across the surrounding landscape and ocean, dangers and possibilities illuminated for all to see; a beacon for those who approach.

And here’s where a ‘lighthouse statement’ can be a useful connector of the internal and external. Standing anchored in what the organisation cares about, the words shine a beam of ‘what’ and ‘how’ that is always in motion. Their light is useful to team members and customers alike.

Now this all might be a matter of semantics — the same stuff called something else. But semantics matter, and even if the thing feels familiar, using a different label can spark people’s interest.

And when the prevailing reaction to company statements is a collective yawn at best, getting their attention is a great place to start.