There's a misconception that purpose is only for big companies. Nick's Pizza & Pub is among the busiest independent pizza company in the US. But that's not what impressed me. It's the fact that a thousand dollar tips has shown up four different times!
The owner Nick Sarillo said this in one of his TEDx talks:
What's the amazing stuff that goes on inside those big companies like Google? We can have a world-class culture in small business too! We can either let culture just happen, which happens mostly. Or we can be explicit and create the culture we want to be a part of. That's what I decided to do. So my approach to doing this is: the first step in building trust at work is starting with purpose.
Small businesses and small teams too can harness purpose.
How Nick's Pizza & Pub discovered their purpose
When Nick wanted to to grow his company, he turned to cultivating a culture around purpose. Before his team could proceed, they needed to discover their purpose first.
In his book, Nick explains their discovery process. They organized an off-site 2-day retreat gathering select team members to put the company's purpose in writing. Here's Nick's initial thoughts about the retreat:
The idea seemed strange, even a little frightening: two long days of sitting in a circle and talking honestly about our business, even the bad stuff. There would be flip charts, creative projects with Play-Doh and markers, meditations, and, of course, that all-too-scary things: emotions.
Selecting the purpose discovery team
The team included servers, bartenders, cooks, busboys, two people from every work group, a newbie, a veteran, as well as the entire management team.
Questions to ask
At the retreat the team explored these questions:
- What are we doing right?
- What value are we adding?
- What are the contributions we make to our customers?
- What is the need we fill in the community?
- What part of work makes us feel good?
- What are we individually most passionate about?
- How do we define ourselves?
Process and tools
Day 1: Use flip boards to brainstorm ideas including:
- list of words describing what the company means to the team
- phrases describing positive elements of the company
Day 2: Turning all the ideas into a purpose statement over several hours
- start with a series of paragraphs
- summarize into one-page document
- edit down to a single sentence in the present tense
Purpose discovery is a life- and business- altering experience
Nick's Pizza & Pub is one of my favorite case studies. I hope it inspires you to do a purpose discovery session with your team. Because as Nick puts it, it's a life- and business- altering experience.