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.

If you found these notes helpful, you might be interested in the following articles and resources from me: