The Big P

Purpose, not Pandemic

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“Can a business have a mind, a sub-conscious, a knack for predicting the future, reflexes faster than the speed of thought? Can a business have a spirit? Can a business have a soul? Can a business be alive?”

SAP TV ad campaign – summer, 2016

One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since early April is what am I preparing for from a business perspective, i.e. what do I expect the new normal to be and how am I preparing for it?

In last month’s newsletter, The Great Pause, I alluded to the fact that vision, mission and values statements are important to me. This suite of purpose defining statements can be extremely helpful in navigating the current, unstable business climate.

On May 14, 2020, Paul Krugman had articles published in Yahoo Finance and The New York Times about what the recovery might look like, a.k.a. the new normal.

The data he used to support his findings included potential “rosy” outcomes as well as substantial negatives. Finding the most accurate data is more likely when you’re able to find supporting and negating facts. Your theory is bound to be more accurate when all the facts, for and against, are still able to support your conclusions.

In other words, it’s the adage of the two sides to every coin.

In searching for a valuable message for this issue I find myself returning to the concept of purpose which I define in my philosophical backpack as the combination of vision, mission, and values.

The present mood of the country provides so much to talk about and vent frustrations. The temptation to focus on the restrictions of the pandemic, the economy, and the political chaos is top of minds. We are burdened with wanting to express what we like, what we don’t like, how the people we don’t agree with are wrong and the ones we agree with are right, and how our emotions are impacting us.

There are more distractions to overwhelm our business focus than ever before. How do these distractions help us run our businesses better, more profitably, sustainably? How does my emotional ranting help me get through the current natural disaster?

Regardless of the political and economic climate, our jobs are to run our businesses, provide products and services, deliver value, and do it profitably. Doing so requires embracing change, the universal business constant, and adapting when and where necessary. This is nothing new, and certainly not a new normal.

It’s easy to get trapped into wasting time talking about the pickle the world seems to be in. And it has nothing to do with the success or failure of your business, your efforts to survive, provide value, or generate income. It’s just not relevant.

So, what’s my point? If your actions aren’t directly linked to your survival, your success, specifically to the delivery of value to the people you’re trying to serve, then you’re wasting your time. If you don’t know what actions you need to be doing to improve your business’ ability to find value and provide it, you need to take a time out and figure out what those actions need to be.

Nothing else matters.

Making a profit is part of survival, part of what makes a business a business, what differentiates a business or not-for-profit from a charity. Right now, what you need to do adapt to best serve the needs of your market.

There’s a very simple way to ensure what you and your staff are investing your time and energy into are the right things. It’s four simple words, two simple sentences.

So what?


Who Cares?

Go back to your purpose. Identify the value you deliver, who you deliver it to, and adjust, if necessary, the way you deliver it. THAT’s your mission. It should be your touchstone, guiding every decision you make and action you take as your organization, and the world, adapts and changes.

Some of it will be “new”, some of it will be the same old same old. Doesn’t matter. Delivering value to your customers is the only thing you need to focus on. Do that, do it consistently, profitably, and dependably. The world is continuously changing. Get on with it. Use this opportunity to make the changes you’ve always wanted to make. The ability to dance with the times will keep your business healthy.


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