Ask the Expert: Defining a purpose with Conny Jost & Sandor Kersting

In our 'Ask the Expert' series, we reach out to internal communication professionals to understand the growing relevance and impact of this topic within organizations.

December 6, 2022
Michael Trummer
Chief Customer Officer

In this month's edition of Ask the Expert, we interviewed Conny Jost and Sandor Kersting, founders of OverTheMaze. Together, they support entrepreneurs and organizations to shape their business based on purpose.

Conny and Sandor, who are you and what moves you?

When introducing Sandor, his 3 most important values immediately come to mind: curiosity, adventurousness, and liveliness. Working with Sandor is a wonderful adventure, where you walk a path together and decide together what that path looks like. That means that no matter how the path you take together evolves; it will add value to both of you.

Introducing Conny is easy. She is a radiant, joyful being who takes great pleasure in connections and loves to see things evolve. No matter if it's relationships, companies, or joint experiments, she pays attention to a continuous development, has a lot of joy also in the details and above all keeps the benefit for all in mind. Walking a path together with her feels sunny and connecting. It gives you the certainty that in the process there will be common growth for all. 

Together we are moved by the fact that we really love to create living environments in which people and companies can flourish. When we enable others to really live their business and not just run it, we know that the world has become a bit richer and more valuable. That moves us, motivates us and makes us a little happier every time.

What is the difference between vision, mission, values and purpose?

That's a great question. When we started OverTheMaze, we asked ourselves this one too, and we're happy to share the answers we found that were most helpful to us.

The vision allows a company to set a clear goal in a broader future that they aspire to and can achieve.

The lived values of a company show the principles and standards that are important for their actions inside and outside.

The mission shows the fundamental reasons for the company's existence, the Why, that is, what does the company want to achieve.

The purpose that exists in a company gives a broad direction. This is the direction in which the company is moving.

To the people in the company, this purpose gives a simple clarity about what is important. It strengthens the connection to each other and thus to the company. And the purpose enables a long-lasting, inner joy about the common work.

Suppose an organization wants to define their purpose. What is your tips on how should they proceed?

Purpose is something that is already there. The purpose is active. It emerges through people and always shines through in actions and experiences.

You find it in what has already happened, in the values you live, in what is important for you to do, and in what draws you together into the future. It is a powerful directional force. And if you put the essence of that into a short sentence that everyone involved feels emotionally related to because it moves them, then you have a visible purpose. 

The purpose exists on different levels. On a very individual level it is the personal purpose. Ask yourself the following guiding question: "What is it that is so significant that you keep bringing it forward and creating it in your life?" 

At the level of an organization, it's the shared purpose, and the following guiding question helps: "What is it that keeps being created and what keeps being made visible by you working together as an organization?" 

Or one level above that, it is then the overarching purpose, which is detached and transcends the individual organization. "What are we accomplishing in the big picture over and over again, and what are we contributing to?" This is where you make the momentum visible, the impact. 

Depending on the level at which you now want to make the purpose tangible in your organization, take as many people as possible along in the project with you. Involve them actively.

What is, in your experience,  the most difficult thing about defining the purpose?

In our experience there are two possible hurdles. A clear YES to the purpose and the concrete use of the purpose. Depending on where the company is in its development.

With the clear YES we mean that it is relevant to consciously decide for the purpose. Because only when a company has decided to truly follow a purpose, they can live it.

When you as a company have defined your purpose, you need the next important step, which is to use it concretely. This means that you should consciously incorporate the purpose and its meaning into the company's decisions. On the other hand, it means creating a company culture which enables employees to participate and join in on the purpose. This way they understand and include the purpose in their actions.

Why is this topic so important and why should companies invest in it?

From our point of view, a company behaves like a living organism that likes to change and move on. In doing so, it benefits the company and the people who work there to know their purpose.

A shared purpose provides clarity, identification and direction,detached from day-to-day details and especially in changing situations. Because this shared sense of direction shows: "This is who we are and what is important to us".

Very concrete effects are:

  • More drive - "I am part of something that is relevant, that is important to me and to us".
  • More confidence - "I know we all want to go in this common direction."
  • Easier decision making - because there is a shared, overarching direction.
How should companies involve employees in defining the purpose?

Employees from different departments each have a different view of the company. As already mentioned, the purpose already exists and runs through the entire organization.

To ensure that as many employees as possible can easily and quickly identify with the purpose, find themselves in it and strengthen it from the start, it helps to involve as many people as possible, ideally all employees, in the process.

If the company has clearly defined its purpose, it is also easy for newcomers to dock onto it, take it on board and live it together with the others.

What is the secret recipe for sustainably anchoring the purpose in the organization?

That the purpose is visibly and actively lived in the organization. That is, how your purpose becomes visible in individual, concrete situations. How it comes to light in experiences, adventures and, above all, everyday occurrences. And this in all areas of the company.

For example, internally, when HR hires new employees and shares how this very purpose has become tangible for their colleagues in their various processes. With customers, for example, when a new system is launched and your employees pass on to their colleagues how pleased the customer was with the positive process. Or in sales, when your sales employees show how they incorporated your purpose into conversations and presentations for prospective customers.

And now, as an organization, you can encourage this sharing and storytelling by making it a regular part of meetings and events, and especially by making it part of everyday business life.

Bring your purpose to life with ahead.

Discover how ahead brings your company's mission, purpose and values to the forefront.

Watch demo
Bring your purpose to life with ahead.
Discover how ahead brings your company's mission, purpose and values to the forefront.
Watch demo

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