Pyramid of Purpose
Strategy in business is always something that runs the risk of being slightly nebulous in nature. When defined in grand terms, your strategy can sound impressive, but what does it really mean? It can be difficult to get from a strategy that is written down on a piece of paper to actions which are going to drive your business forward in a meaningful way. To avoid having your strategy be nothing more than just some words on a page, you may wish to use a model called the Pyramid of Purpose.
The Pyramid of Purpose is a tool which can be used to effectively communicate and identify strategy throughout an organization. There are four levels to this pyramid model, and it is important to work in order from the first level on through to the fourth. The content below will highlight the progression of these four models. Hopefully, in the end, you will feel prepare to use this model within your own business.
Level One – Why
Why is it that your company exists in the first place? What is it that you are trying to accomplish? All businesses want to make money, of course, so that really isn’t a viable answer to put at the top of your pyramid. Instead, you should be thinking about the big picture values or the mission statement for your business. Are you trying to produce the best product in a particular market, regardless of cost? Are you trying to produce a more affordable version of something that is already widely available? Whatever the case, defining the ‘why’ in your pyramid is an important first step. Once this is complete, you will then be able to move on with confidence to filling out the rest of the model.
It is important to keep in mind your intended audience for this pyramid when defining each of the levels, starting with the ‘why’. Are you going to be explaining your strategy to your employees, or to stakeholders such as investors? Those are two very different groups of people, and they will be interested in different information. Throughout the pyramid, it is important to consider the ultimate target audience for your use of the pyramid model.
Level Two – What
In level two, you are going to move from abstract ideas and concepts into things which are more tangible and easily defined. The ‘what’ part of the pyramid is where things start to get interesting, as you are going to plan out real-world steps which are meant to further your progress toward making the ‘why’ level a reality. For instance, the ‘what’ could be to launch five stores within the next 12 months, or you could be aiming to sell a given number of units in that same period of time.
In a lot of ways, the ‘what’ portion of the pyramid is simply a list of your goals for the business. As with any kind of goal setting, these goals should be both measurable and actionable. You should be able to tell immediately when you have achieved one of the goals, and you should be able to take steps toward making them a reality. Goal setting is a skill which is important for any business owner or manager to possess, and you will work on your goal setting ability when you employ the Pyramid of Purpose.
Level Three – How
Now you are getting down to business. With goals laid out in the ‘what’ section, you are going to now work on determining exactly how those goals are going to be achieved. What actions need to be taken in order to check off your goals one at a time? When do you need to take those actions? This section of the pyramid needs to be extremely specific, as specific tasks are ones that will be completed. If the ‘how’ level of your pyramid is too vague in its description, your teams may wind up wandering toward their goals rather than moving toward them in an organized and purposeful manner.
The potential list of items which could be found in the ‘how’ layer of the pyramid is infinite. You could lay out plans for the production of a given product, you could pick out locations for your stores, you could find suppliers, and on and on. Because this section is so specific, it will be up to you to determine your best path of action in order to hit on your goals. All companies are different, making your job as the leader incredibly important if things are going to stay on the right track.
Level Four – Who
This is a level of the pyramid which is often overlooked in other strategic planning models. Not only do you need to know what you are trying to accomplish and how you intend to get there, but you also need to know who is going to be doing the work. Do you have people in place for each of the tasks that needs to be completed? Where are you going to find those people? What kind of experiences will they need to have in order to do the job successfully?
You simply aren’t going to be able to reach your goals without accurately identifying the people who are going to help take your company where it needs to go. These people may already be inside of your organization, or they may need to be added from the outside. Either way, the fourth and final level of the pyramid may just be the most important one yet.
Strategic planning is essential for all businesses, yet many people who work within those organizations may not have a clear picture of what the plan is on a large scale. With that in mind, the Pyramid of Purpose is a great tool for use in disseminating information throughout the company with regard to the strategic plan. When distributed across four unique levels, your strategic plan may start to come into view for everyone involved.
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