[LINK] Purpose of Lyft

On Lyft’s mission:

Lyft was founded nearly six years ago with the mission to improve people's lives through the world's best transportation.

On vision:

Our vision was to reinvent cities around people, not cars. That vision originated with one of our cofounders, who spent his life in Los Angeles, sitting in traffic and thinking to himself, there has got to be a better way. Our other cofounder truly believed in hospitality and wanted to communicate with and connect people and communities. Together they determined as a human society, there had to be a better way to solve for a traffic pain points and the fact that people sit alone in their cars, travel great distances to work, release emissions and all the downsides of traffic today.

On the subject of Lyft, here are their core values:

  • Be Yourself.
  • Uplift Others.
  • Make It Happen.

Some links referring to their values:

Starting with purpose in a job description

I came across this job posting from Cookpad awhile ago, the leading recipe sharing site in Japan.

I love how the job description starts with their why:

Our purpose at Cookpad is to make everyday cooking fun. Not just because we like food but because we believe that cooking is key to a happier and healthier life for people, communities and the planet.

Everyday, home cooking has a profound impact on ourselves and the world around us: it makes us healthier, connects us with our friends and family, and makes our environment more sustainable. By solving the problems related to everyday cooking and encouraging more people to cook, we believe we can help build a better world.

A great example of how we can start with why in all facets of communication we do.


You do not invent a higher purpose; you discover it.

From the feature article, Creating a Purpose-driven Organization of Harvard Business Review July-August 2018 issue about discovering purpose:

At a global oil company, we once met with members of a task force asked by the CEO to work on defining the organization’s purpose. They handed us a document representing months of work; it articulated a purpose, a mission, and a set of values. We told them it had no power—their analysis and debate had produced only platitudes.

Continuing on how purpose should be discovered:

The members of the task force had used only their heads to invent a higher purpose intended to capture employees’ hearts. But you do not invent a higher purpose; it already exists. You can discover it through empathy—by feeling and understanding the deepest common needs of your workforce. That involves asking provocative questions, listening, and reflecting.

And love this bit on the rising tide of purpose:

Purpose has become a popular topic. Even leaders who don’t believe in it face pressure from board members, investors, employees, and other stakeholders to articulate a higher purpose.

And just one more highlight about the power of purpose:

By connecting people with a sense of higher purpose, leaders can inspire them to bring more energy and creativity to their jobs. When employees feel that their work has meaning, they become more committed and engaged. They take risks, learn, and raise their game.

A wonderful and insightful issue of Harvard Business Review. Be sure to check it out.

And it’s always good to remind ourselves and repeatedly ask ourselves:

What’s our higher purpose?

Key Elements of a Great Vision

"Vision" is the ability to talk about the future with such clarity it is as if we are talking about the past. – Simon Sinek

We all know having a clear image of our goal, a vision, is important.

But what exactly is vision?

What are the key ingredients of vision?

Everybody has a different take on what vision is exactly. Jim Collins, author of the business classic Built to Last, defines vision as:

A well-conceived vision consists of two major components - core ideology and an envisioned future. Notice the direct parallel to the fundamental “persevere the core/stimulate progress” dynamic. A good vision builds on the interplay between these two complementary yin-and-yang forces: it defines “what we stand for and why we exist” that does not change (the core ideology) and sets forth “what we aspire to become, to achieve, to create” that will require significant change and progress to attain (the envisioned future).

Ken Blanchard, author of another business classic Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life, explains:

The three key elements of a compelling vision: Significant Purpose, Clear Values, A Picture of the Future.

These business definitions might feel complicated, so let’s take a look at the dictionary definition:

The act or power of seeing. - Merriam-Webster

In other words, in the simplest terms, vision is what you see if you travelled to the future. The phrase, picture of the future, expresses this well.

The Three Elements of a Picture of the Future
As part of my work as a brand consultant, I had the opportunity to study vision statements as well as helping companies formulate their vision.

I’ve observed that a picture of the future can contain all or some of the following parts:

  1. What do you aspire to be?
  2. How will who your serve (the customer) change or transform as a result of what you do?
  3. How will the world, which you and your customer live in, change due to what you do?

So to have a comprehensive picture of the future, these are the three elements to think about and clarify.

On that note, I end with a question for you.

What does your picture of the future look like?

[REPORT] The Purpose City

Just came across this report from 2014 - The Purpose City: A New Urban Model for a New Generation of Urbanites.

The New Cities Foundation, NBBJ and Imperative convened 50 influential policy makers, scientists, start-up entrepreneurs, business leaders, designers, planners and citizens who, in a mix of debate and hands-on design exercises, discussed and developed new models of urban living for a new generation of purpose-driven consumers, professionals and citizens.

Beautifully formatted with lots of food for thought on how we can turn our cities into hubs of purpose. Plus a look at the workshops and the results.

You can also find a list of reports about purpose including this one here.

Notes on creating a purpose-driven business strategy

Here are some notes about the framework I use to help clients design their business strategies. It also serves as a great framework to create the foundation for a business plan.



The framework start with purpose - the WHY. For example, Starbucks’ purpose is to inspire and nurture the human spirit.

As the core of purpose are three questions we need to answer:

  1. Who do we serve?
  2. How do we help them?
  3. Consequently, how does that transform those we serve?


Based on the purpose, we derive our concept. The word “concept” means different things to different people. Consequently, there are countless ways to express the concept. I categorize the variations of ways to express concepts into three kinds.

In this variation we express the concept as keywords and key phrases as if they were the core and key ingredients of the our strategy and business. For example, at the core of Starbucks’ strategy are human connection and coffee.

Here we express the concept as a clear and concise explanation. The explanation can be formulated based on various frameworks. For example, you can structure the explanation based on the marketing mix (product, price, promotion, and place) or something as simple as who, what, where, how, and why.

This is by far the most difficult form to nail down. If the explanation variation is the elevator pitch, this would be the tweet version. Here are some examples.

Going back to the Starbucks example, the one-liner is the third place.

MUJI explains their concept as - living as part of a community, simply, conscientiously, and in harmony. They capture the explanation in a simple one-liner in Japanese: kanji-ii-kurashi.

Another example is Peach Airlines, an Japanese airline known for low fares and fun service. Their concept is captured in the phrase sora wo tobu densha, which means a train that flies in the sky.

Here’s one last example. Union Square Ventures is a investment company and they call their strategic focus an investment thesis. Here’s their thesis in 140 characters:

invest in large networks of engaged users, differentiated by user experience, and defensible though network effects


In the strategy section, we want to articulate the key components of your strategies.

A great example of this is the transformation agenda Starbucks created in 2008 to turn the company around. The agenda stated seven big moves:

  1. Be the undisputed coffee authority
  2. Engage and inspire their partners
  3. Ignite the emotional attachment with their customers
  4. Expand their global presence-while making each store the heart of the local neighborhood
  5. Be a leader in ethical sourcing and environmental impact
  6. Create innovative growth platforms worthy of their coffee
  7. Deliver a sustainable economic model

Learning from this example, a good way to articulate strategy is to come up a list of bold moves for your project or business.

Another great reference for strategy is Elon Musk’s Master Plan for Tesla. (Part two of their master plan is here.)

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car

The Master Plan provides a clear road map (a series of steps) on what needs to be done.

From Purpose To Strategy

So there you have it - my framework to help your organize and articulate your purpose, concept, and strategy. This framework is still evolving and I’ll be sharing my thoughts in the future.