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Chapter 3 | Narrative Guidebook

Purpose Metrics

How do you know if you are on track to fulfill your purpose?

Try this simple thought experiment to discover how it looks when your Shared Purpose is embraced by others.

A different kind of metric

Traditional metrics don’t work to measure progress towards your Shared Purpose.

Were all familiar with profit metrics: the measures that tell you whether you’re on track to increase growth and efficiency. These include basic things like cost, revenue and margin, which reveal whether you’re achieving your Purpose TO.

But how do you know if you are on track to fulfill your purpose?

Some companies measure social impact, like environmental footprint or charitable activities. These are important and valuable. But they measure your Purpose FOR, not your Purpose WITH.

How do you measure Purpose WITH?

Three bells to measure purpose

Your Purpose Metrics are three imaginary bells that ring when anyone manifests your Purpose TO, FOR or WITH in the world.

There’s a famous line in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.” We can apply this idea to discover metrics for your purpose.

  • The first bell measures Purpose TO: it rings when you sell and deliver your product.
  • The second bell measures Purpose FOR: it rings whenever someone benefits from anything your company does, whether directly or indirectly.
  • The third bell measures Shared Purpose (Purpose WITH): it rings when anyone manifests your purpose in the world.

The third bell is your Shared Purpose Metric. It's the important one, because people today want to be a part of something bigger. They want to know the WHY as well as the WHAT. They want to know if your purpose is something you do to make money, or whether you make money to fulfill your purpose.

Identifying your Shared Purpose Metric can help you see yourself as being in the business of your purpose. This shift has the power to transform how your business sees its value.

For example, Kodak lost its lead because they thought they were in the film business instead of the memories business.

Identifying a Shared Purpose Metric could have helped Kodak shift the problem they were trying to solve from “How can we get people to buy more film?” to “How can we help people create more memories?”

Example

Nike

Consider Nike’s mission: “to inspire the athlete in all of us.”  Cheers makes the third bell tangible—and measurable.

  • The TO bell rings when they sell a pair of shoes.  
  • The FOR bell rings when Nike inspires someone to see themselves as an athlete.
  • The WITH bell rings when anyone in the world inspires someone to see themselves as an athlete.

One way Nike shares this purpose is through the Nike+ running app, which has a feature called Cheers. When someone goes for a run, it can post automatically to Facebook.

When someone replies to that post, the app sends applause through the runner's headphones.

In effect, Nike is helping people inspire the athlete in their friends. And they can measure it by how many times cheers are sent to an app user.

Example

Patagonia

Unlike many companies, Patagonia’s mission covers Purpose TO, FOR and WITH.

Its mission is to “build the best product” (TO), “cause no unnecessary harm” (FOR), and “use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” (WITH).

Anytime someone does something good for the environment, you can imagine the third bell ringing in Patagonia’s headquarters.

The bell also rings when they are a role model for others. For instance, Patagonia considered it a success when others copied their approach to creating a market for organic cotton—rather than trying to hoard their purpose (or their business model).

The result of this kind of focus on the third bell? Patagonia has the highest level of loyalty and profitability in their industry.

Exercise

Purpose TO Metric

Imagine you have the three purpose bells installed in your office. Let’s figure out what exactly rings each bell. What are your three Purpose Metrics: TO, FOR and WITH?

Let’s start with Purpose TO. What rings this bell is when you deliver value to your stakeholders by selling and delivering your product.

Use the worksheet to capture ideas for your Purpose TO Metric.

Exercise

Purpose FOR Metric

To create your Purpose FOR Metric, think about ways that people benefit from what your company does.

What rings the Purpose FOR bell is when anyone benefits from what your company does, either directly or indirectly. Think of an event that captures the nature of the benefits your company brings to the world.

Use the worksheet to capture ideas for your Purpose FOR Metric.

Exercise

Shared Purpose (WITH) Metric

To create your Shared Purpose (WITH) Metric, think about the change you want to see in the world.

Your Shared Purpose is connected to your business, but it’s not necessarily a direct result of using your product. Now imagine the bell ringing every time someone has that outcome, whether or not you were involved in making it happen.

For example, if you are a healthcare company, it might be every time someone gets healthy. If you are a beauty company, it might be every time someone looks in the mirror and likes what they see.

Use the worksheet to capture ideas for your Shared Purpose Metric.

Recap

How do you know if you are on track to fulfill your purpose?

  • Traditional metrics don’t work to measure progress towards your Shared Purpose.
  • Your Purpose Metrics are three imaginary bells that ring when anyone manifests your Purpose TO, FOR or WITH in the world.