Summer 2018 and we were sitting in a Directors meeting. Suddenly someone bravely ventures the view that they had started feeling unsure when using our company name. We all immediately identified with this and all of a sudden everyone was in fierce agreement that we needed to change the name. Being quite a significant decision, why were we all so adamant to change?!

Speaking for myself anyway, it felt that the name no longer represented who we were or how we had evolved as a business. It felt clunky saying it and I was even reticent telling people the name – not particularly helpful as you grow your brand. It’s interesting how strong a feeling can be when something important regarding what you do, doesn’t match up with why you do it. In other words, your purpose.

So back to Summer 2018 and we are all excited at the impending change. Names started flying about – Greek deities, Gaelic and Arabic phrases, acronyms, made up words. I think we even moved onto animals and plants before the end. We went through tens if not hundreds. It dragged on over weeks, then months. We brought in some help from outside, we tried exercises, we banged our heads against walls, but nothing was landing.

So, what was the real issue? In short while we had realised that the old name no longer represented our purpose, we hadn’t yet nailed what it was our purpose was! Of course, we knew this intuitively between us – the way we worked with clients and each other, the values we had and still have. We were always able to talk to each other about this and in our collective minds it was totally clear. But when asked to succinctly play it back to someone else? This is where we became a little unstuck.

So, we went back to basics. What is it we stand for and why do we exist? When we revisited this, we started making progress: We focus on people and we focus on change. We believe that for change to succeed, it is the people in an organisation or community that make this happen. People Create Change. And how do we work with clients on this? We like to help create clarity and shine a light on the real issues Claridade, a Portuguese word that captures all of these sentiments.

As painful as this process was at times, it was really valuable as it reinforced some key fundamentals for me.

When engaged in any change, no matter how seemingly small, it needs to be built around a clear purpose. This is why many large-scale change initiatives fail – they are not framed, clearly linked or built around a core purpose. This is essential in helping people understand the ultimate goal and to help them keep an eye on the bigger picture, especially during the more ambiguous and challenging times.

When engaged in any change, no matter how seemingly small, it needs to be built around a clear purpose

So signing off, I see 3 really key factors:

  1. Make sure that the change is framed and built around a core and consistent purpose
  2. Make sure the message around purpose is clear and easy for others to understand
  3. Make sure people can identify themselves and their roles in this purpose and ideally contribute in some form or another

Any finally, yes, we do realise the irony that in our search for clarity we named ourselves after a word for clarity

And no, none of us speak Portuguese… 🙂

Karl Daly

Karl has 17+ years of experience within consulting and in-house leadership roles which cross geographies, sectors and industries. Most recently he has led a global team of experts to develop and deliver innovative development interventions across Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia.