What Is Your Why Type Writer Message

Write your purpose in ten words or less

“To fight and win at sea" - motto of the Australian Navy. What's yours?

Written by Dr. Shaun Ridley FAIM
2 minute read
What Is Your Why Type Writer Message

Regardless of whether or not you like the Royal Australian Navy's perfectly simple purpose statement, or agree with it, it is a terrific example of the power of a short, clear and unique statement to define an organisation’s purpose for the benefit of both customers and employees.

If you work for the Australian Navy, or are considering working for them, there is absolutely no doubt about what they do and why they do it.

Such Statements can be very useful tools for helping decision- making at all levels of the organisation. “Is what I am doing now going to contribute to that purpose? How will this decision align with our purpose?” Both these questions can be answered easily when your purpose is simple, easily remembered and motivating.

Contrast the Australian Navy purpose with the multi-paragraph versions so often seen in other organisations. Long, verbose, multi-layered statements are rarely read by anyone except their author and subsequently have no impact on shaping behaviour within that organisation.

Another great example of one of these statements that guide decisions and behaviours is the motto of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company which reads “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”.

Not only does this statement say something about the organisation and its staff, but it also identifies its customers. As a prestige brand, the Ritz-Carlton wants it known that it is not seeking to attract the backpacker market to its hotels.

One more small step in the next 24 hours

Taking the time to craft a compelling Purpose Statement is well worth the effort. Involve as many people from as many levels in your organisation as possible. Eventually, you will need the support and buy-in from everyone on the team if your statement is to be meaningful.

Although the title of this chapter suggests restricting the number of words to ten, this number is simply to provoke a discipline of keeping the statement short at all costs. Everyone will want to add words, or sentences, or paragraphs. Your job is to cut out superfluous words.

These two tests of a good statement will be helpful

Test one: If you take away the name of your organisation, will people familiar with your industry still recognise it as your Statement? This test encourages you to identify the factor that is truly unique about your organisation.

Test two: Does your statement motivate your staff to get out bed and off to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes known as the “Doona Test”, this test demands that you make the statement inspiring to your team.

Ask yourself

What impact could this action have on your leadership success? 

How likely is it you could implement this action successfully?