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BK Reason for Being

Posted by Berrett-Koehler Staff

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Hi David. Hi Everyone.

You are such quick studies!

Here are a couple of alternates to help stoke the discussions. But, first, please remember the following about a Reason for Being:

It is a statement that defines what an organization exists to do, not what it does to exist. It must declare a primary customer(in David's example, it was the reader). Last week, I called that "whom you serve". It must include a primary outcome (in David's example, it was to help customer achieve their individual, organization, and societal growth goals). Last week, I called that 'the value you create'. It must also clearly state how you deliver on your promise, aka your outcome (in David's example, it was by publishing 35-40 new titles per year with fresh ideas, tools, and skills.)

The language is über important (no surprise to a group of authors) as the Reason for Being does more than bring focus, it serves as the brand's and the community's DNA going forward. Please remember that the Reason for Being is first and foremost unambiguous. The first goal is for everyone to 'get it' and achieve a singular 'mind's eye' view of the organization's intent and means to achieve results. Next, you can work on the words that tell that story (tag lines, headlines, stories, press releases, etc.). 

Personal Reflection

Now, I'm stepping out of the role of consultant and just responding to what I've read so far as an individual. Being, perhaps, the community's newest member (unless someone joined after me in the last hour), I have this one opportunity to share a first impression ;-)

What I read in David Marshall's compendium of thoughts from the community offered many different benefits. While I could imagine them all co-existing peacefully, the Reason for Being exercise requires that we make the tough calls now so that the direction we set will be long-lasting and yield ever greater alignment. 

I bucketed the comments into:

providing community

finding purpose meaning

change culture

build society

provide support

publishing books

realizing visions

In short, that's too many outcomes to manage effectively. (A Reason for Being doesn't say an organization or community can't do more than one thing, it simply places one outcome above others for alignment and effectiveness. (This is a Systems Thinking concept.)

Another Option

My brain took all of that and created this Reason for Being. Before you read it, please remember that while I'm technically a member, practically I'm still an outsider and I may be missing some key points. So, what you're about to read may serve you best if you look for a pattern in it--one that you might adjust to be exactly what this community needs. 

BK exists to connect fresh ideas that can change the world with the influencers who can apply them through publishing and community.

Here's how it breaks down:

BK exists

This is what we exist to do (not what we do to exist). This is our purpose. Our why-we-wake-up-every-morning. It's our DNA. This Reason for Being is what we strive to become. 

to connect

We take accountability for the supply chain of ideas, tools, and skills between the people who share them and the people who need them.

fresh ideas

Our specialty is in finding new ways of looking at the world that can help right now.

that can change the world

We consciously apply the value-filters of growth (scale), equality (equal access), purpose (personal, organizational, and societal), and making a difference (that we care about and others notice and appreciate). [NOTE: these terms need to be defined more carefully for sustainability.]

with the influencers who can apply them

We actively find, then connect working (or ready to work) 'change agents' around the planet. BK will become a primary supplier of high-and-immediate-impact ideas, tools, and skills for people on a quest to make a difference

through publishing and community.

We publish (through all channels and media) AND we take accountability for introducing and stewarding support-giving and action-taking communities.  

What's Next?

Whether you like this variation or not, it sets a pattern which you can build on as you tighten up BK's Reason for Being. Keep the conversation going! First, strive for zero ambiguity. Then, you can wordsmith to your heart's content!

Thanks for the opportunity to serve!

Best Regards,

Mike Wittenstein
Global Speaker, CX Designer & Consultant
http://MikeWittenstein.com    //   Gets to the Heart 
+1.770.425.9830 Main  //  +1.404.229.5809 Cell



Charlotte Ashlock
Charlotte Ashlock
October 27, 2014

I love the clarity and precision of your thinking here, Mike.  I wonder if I can wordsmith to even shorter without losing important nuances of meaning.  

I like:

We exist to serve people trying to make the world a better place, by helping them spread their ideas. 

What about tweeting many possible phraseologies and seeing which get the most retweets? 

Berrett-Koehler Staff
Berrett-Koehler Staff
October 27, 2014

Hi Charlotte,

Shorter is usually sweeter.

Can you expand on the "HOW" part of spreading ideas. Also, whom do you serve? authors, readers, both, someone else?

Charlotte Ashlock
Charlotte Ashlock
October 27, 2014

Great questions!

We help authors enlist readers in making the world a better place, by presenting and spreading their ideas in attention-grabbing, actionable ways.  

I hesitate to mention "books" since David is always talking about how books are only 1 type of many possible learning experiences we can create.   However, other people have told me books should be mentioned explicitly.   I dunno.  

Berrett-Koehler Staff
Berrett-Koehler Staff
October 27, 2014

Book may just be the packaging (as you've indicated below). What BK does that adds value to the entire community (idea havers, idea packagers, idea consumers/users, and those they help) needs to come into focus.

Charlotte Ashlock
Charlotte Ashlock
October 27, 2014

Or here's another version, more based on David's ideas:   We exist to serve people dedicated to growth and equality, by helping them spread their ideas. 

Berrett-Koehler Staff
Berrett-Koehler Staff
October 27, 2014

Who, specifically does 'people' refer to?

How do we (BK) help them spread their ideas (specifically)?

Charlotte Ashlock
Charlotte Ashlock
October 27, 2014

We help authors enlist readers in their quest for growth and equality, by packaging author's ideas in a way that is both attention-getting and actionable. 

Berrett-Koehler Staff
Berrett-Koehler Staff
October 27, 2014

Hope you don't mind the Perry Mason-like line of questions ;-)

who does 'their' refer to?

how do you do packaging differently and better than anyone else?

Charlotte Ashlock
Charlotte Ashlock
October 27, 2014

Socratic method is good!

"Their" refers to both authors & readers....

What about our packaging is different & better:  attention-getting and actionable (as I said.)   What else?  Our packaging adds credibility and gravitas, especially in the community of ppl working on similar projects.   Making the big idea clearer and the supporting arguments more organized is another important (albeit less sexy) service we focus on. 

We help authors enlist readers in a shared quest to create a world that works for all.  We do this by helping authors find the most attention-getting, actionable, credible, and clear way of presenting their passion & life's work. 

So much for length...

Berrett-Koehler Staff
Berrett-Koehler Staff
October 27, 2014

I think it's time for a phone call. Who would you like to have on it from BK and/or from other places?

The discussion we should have (IMHO) is what big promise BK can make that the world (and BK's primary outcome owners) truly care about. Personally, I'd like to expand the discussion around value creation, get clear on that, then bring in the constraints (a systems thinking work that includes emotions, constituents, how we do what we do, etc.). I believe that if we tackle the conversation in this order (given all the great thinking that's already been done), we'll land on what everyone is truly looking for.

What do you think?