Getting to a Shared Purpose Partnership

climbing_lastbeatsMark Bonchek, chief catalyst of ORBIT+Co., writes in a post for the HBR Blog Network about the benefits of having a corporate purpose.

Many are starting to profess the importance of  purpose—for instance Simon Sinek, who has a powerful model for inspirational leadership that starts with with a golden circle and the question, “Why?” (His talk on how great leaders inspire action is one of the most-viewed presentations on TEDx and his book, Start with Why, makes the point that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”)

But I like Mark’s blog because he takes the concept one step further, espousing the importance of having a “shared purpose” with your business partners.

Every company has (or should have) a purpose, usually defined in a vision, mission statement or similar expression—or it probably won’t be around very long in any kind of purposeful way. Having a shared purpose however is a different species of animal because it embodies the Vested concepts of collaboration, trust, shared vision and shared values. Establishing a shared purpose with existing or potential partners is more complicated and nuanced than simply writing a short mission statement and then adhering to it.

Yes, as Bonchek points out, companies are turning to “purpose” and “authenticity” as a way to engage consumers and employees. “But it’s hard enough to find a purpose in life if you’re an individual, let alone an entire company,” he continues. “And being authentic is a bit like being cool — sometimes the harder you try, the less you are.”

That’s where the Vested approach to establishing a solid collaborative agreement framework by implementing the Five Rules and their 10 Elements will help companies cut through the complexities.

There are different kinds of purpose, Bonchek says. “Sometimes purpose is about values — who you are and what you stand for. Other times it is about value — what you do and how it benefits others.”

The value/values distinction is important, especially when it comes to sharing value and sharing purpose. Alignment of both is the key, or as Bonchek says, “Have what you stand for guide what you make, and have your value to the community enhance your value to customers and shareholders.”

His idea aligns—there’s that word again!—with Vested’s Elements #1 and #2. In a Vested relationship, once the parties understand and document their business model by mapping it—together!—they reach a better understanding of who they are and how well they are aligned to each other’s goals. They understand the “why” of it and then work together on a joint vision that will guide them for the duration of their Vested relationship. The vision and alignment forms the basis of a Statement of Intent drafted jointly by the teams.

The Vested Outsourcing Manual describes in detail the proper path to a Vested agreement using the 10 Elements. Element #2 embodies the creation of a shared vision and statement of intent. Together, these directly address the value/values combination. These are the foundational guideposts for your business relationship.

As with all of the components of a Vested Agreement, the key is that this is done by parties that are aligned and that work TOGETHER!

Image: climbing in red rocks silhouette by lastbeats via Flickr cc

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