Leestijd: 5 min (read)

Everybody talks about purpose, but few people (and organizations) know how to define it. Understandable, because even the theory was missing the right perspective. So, what is purpose and how do you use it in storytelling?

Last year there was an article on Forbes showing a Venn diagram about purpose. The diagram suggests that purpose can be found on the intersection of four elements:

  1. What you love doing
  2. What you are good at
  3. What you get paid for
  4. What the world needs

venn-diagram-purpose-icity

On the intersections of these perspectives we’ll find: passion, mission, profession and vocation. And if you were to look even deeper .. but we’ll leave it there.

Because the diagram isn’t complete. I strongly believed something is missing.

It is nice to know that you like to do what you do and that you get paid for it. It is even nicer to know that you are passionate about it, and care for the world. But it is all about you (or your organisation). And we all know that talking about yourself isn’t inspiring to others. You need to place all of that in some form of context.

The Missing Link

Recently I found an addition to a kind of Venn Diagram, that I believe is bringing context to stories. I took the liberty to adjust it a bit to get to the following Venn Diagram:

venn-diagram-purpose-extended-icity

The new Venn diagram now looks at purpose from 4+1 perspectives:

  1. What you love doing
  2. What you are good at
  3. What you get paid for
  4. What the world needs +
  5. What you have experienced

Experiences are the context of your story

Everything we experience, can potentially define us or confine us. It is from those experiences that we tell our stories. These stories can be used to serve others and to act as a catalyst for change. Experiences might be about your childhood, past jobs, relationships, milestones, or even traumatic events. Companies can’t have experiences, only people do.

The experiences that are relevant to your story will vary. But in general: experiences linked to your goal, on which you have a honest and credible opinion, can create credible context. Authenticity and thought leadership play a huge part in storytelling.

Still, just sharing your experiences does not automatically lead to your goal. If your goal is to sell goods and services, how do you use storytelling to achieve it?

Storytelling (narrative) on purpose is simply connecting your relevant experiences to the other 4 perspectives, in order to be recognised as a catalyst for change.

A nice example on how this plays out is the story told by Warby Parker – selected by Fast Company as the most innovative company of 2015, beating Apple to the punch:

[narrative] Every idea starts with a problem. Ours was simple: glasses are too expensive. We were students when one of us lost his glasses on a backpacking trip. The cost of replacing them was so high that he spent the first semester of grad school without them, squinting and complaining. (We don’t recommend this.) The rest of us had similar experiences, and we were amazed at how hard it was to find a pair of great frames that didn’t leave our wallets bare. Where were the options?

It turns out there was a simple explanation. The eyewear industry is dominated by a single company that has been able to keep prices artificially high while reaping huge profits from consumers who have no other options.

[mission] We started Warby Parker to create an alternative.

[profession] By circumventing traditional channels, designing glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, we’re able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price.

[passion] We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.

[vocation] We also believe that everyone has the right to see.

[conviction] Almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses, which means that 15% of the world’s population cannot effectively learn or work. To help address this problem, Warby Parker partners with non-profits like VisionSpring to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.

[profession] There’s nothing complicated about it. Good eyewear, good outcome.

For one of our of our clients we wrote a similar story:

[narrative] Just like many of you we’ve experienced the daunting task of buying software online and trying to get it installed on our computers. The lack of information on finding the correct license was just the first hurdle. Followed by a second one: error messages during installation!

Who to call? Most major vendors don’t offer support by phone. We won’t go into details on the amount of time (and money) it has cost us to get the software to work. But we do know that what started out as a journey to solve a problem, became a frustration!

[conviction] That’s not what IT is about, is it?

[mission] Instead of blaming the vendors, we decided to become a vendor ourselves. And make a difference.

[vocation] This blog is intended to help you make the right choices. Besides helping you to get the most out of the software itself. And should you be so kind to buy a software license through TresBizz, at the fairest price, we will help you to install the software through our remote support. Free of Charge.

[mission] To free you from the hassle we’ve experienced.

[passion] Because we want you to enjoy our products.

[profession] And because we strongly believe IT is about solving problems, not creating new ones.

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