Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization

Jan bio photo
Jan Muhleman
September 6, 2018
September 6, 2018

A recent Harvard Business Review article on creating a purpose-driven organization leads off with Gerry Anderson, Chairman and CEO of DTE Energy. When we started working with DTE as their agency in 2012, one of the most impressive things we found in our Discovery process was their purpose, aspiration and values statement. As the article notes, it was created by Gerry and his team in 2008 after a visit to USAA.

Gerry Anderson of DTE

The purpose statement did not exist when several of us worked on their account at a previous agency. Even with our prior experience, it elicited a big “WOW” from our team. As DTE customers, most of our team had no clue about their commitment and service philosophy. Our research showed that we were not alone. Our brand campaign needed to support the purpose statement and educate and engage both internal and external audiences. The “Know Your Own Power” campaign became a call to action for both employees and customers.

The HBR article provides four suggestions for creating a purpose-driven organization. The following are a few more we have observed through working with DTE.

  1. Keep it front and center
    As you walk from the employee parking garage you are presented with a series of banners spanning the hallway that articulate the purpose, aspiration and values of the company. Dan Gilbert does something similar in the Quicken Loans offices where his values and beliefs are super graphics on the walls. He even wrote a book that each new employee receives titled “ISMS in Action”.
  2. Keep it current
    We recently produced a new purpose video for DTE that brings to life not only the corporate purpose but also Gerry’s vision for an 80% reduction in carbon emissions. It celebrates how DTE employees support their communities and work to protect the environment and is shown on large screens in their lobby and town hall.
  3. Keep it consistent, inside and out
    The communications team at DTE has done an incredible job ensuring that all departments adhere to the corporate brand standards for all communications internally and externally. They have come a long way since our initial audit six years ago revealed a mishmash of identities and graphic treatment. It requires commitment at the top to a consistent brand and recognition of the importance of consistent messaging, look and feel.

We feel privileged to partner with DTE Energy. We continue to be inspired by their leadership team and embrace their sense of purpose. It proves that their purpose-driven focus transcends their internal teams, it appeals to business partners and customers as well.