“We have to find a purpose that has us?” Rachel was confused. “I’m not sure I understand. We are trying to do strategic planning for 2011. I get that we have to define our purpose. I know that purpose will drive the rest of the plan. But you make it sound like that purpose has to be some powerful compelling force. We bake bread.”
“Exactly!” I said. “What kind of bread do you bake?”
“Well, we bake all kinds of bread.”
“So, why do you bake bread?”
“I don’t understand.” Rachel’s head was moving from side to side. She wasn’t disagreeing, but she was having difficulty with the question.
“Why do you bake bread?” I repeated.
“Because our customers buy it.”
“And, why do your customers buy it?”
“Well, bread is consumed at almost every meal in some form or another. People eat a lot of bread. It’s a comfort food.” Rachel was trying.
“Why is bread so important to people?”
“It’s just part of life, bread goes with everything. It’s universal. Around the world, all cultures eat bread. When people get together, they break bread. It’s almost a bond between people.”
“And do you bake quality bread?” I asked.
“The best,” Rachel smiled. “Hot out of the oven, warm, soft, drizzle a little honey on it, just the smell of it makes you feel good.”
“Rachel, you are on the right track. Somewhere in what you describe, is purpose. Somewhere in there, is vision. Somewhere in there, is mission.”
“It’s funny you should say that,” she said. “In the hallway is our mission statement, only it’s just a picture, of a steaming loaf of bread emerging from an oven door.”
What is your company’s mission? If you were to take a picture, what would it be a picture of?