Brian Sooy Strategy
Clarifying Your Cause Will Shape Your Manifesto
E very day, worldwide, meaningful causes are trying harder than ever to get noticed, to rise above the noise, inspire change, motivate action, and speak with one voice. Before that can happen, you and your organization have to clarify who you are and what you do. At Aespire, we call this the Clarity Process. The underlying aspect of leadership people are looking for, from and in organizations, is clarity. People need to know who are you, what do you do, why does it matter, and what difference are you making? When people engage this guided process with us, they sometimes find that they confirm what their cause is; other times the process clarifies what their cause is; and it causes some to realize that they didn’t have a handle on what their cause is. Ultimately, seeking clarity through this process helps leaders discover their values. Many of us struggle as did this potential client. He said, “I know what my values are, I just can’t get them out of my head.” The Clarity Process helps you get those values out of your head and onto paper so that you can start to plan for them and act on them.That’s how those values must be operating—not just on a piece of paper or a wall somewhere. Values are real when they show up in your character. When behavior is consistent and engaged in by others, it becomes culture. After we have clarified the big picture,we have to continue by seeking clarity in what we do. I walk through a basic planning process with one of my staff, and I say, “Here’s the end, but we need to know the client’s objectives, so we
communication. When you think about most conflict, most failure— where’s the biggest breakdown that occurs? It’s communication. Communication is always the internal gap between leadership and team, between organization and the public. Communication is the voice. But if you don’t know what your values are, what you stand for, or what your cause is, and it’s not clear enough to you, then your voice is muted! You’re not going to be able to communicate with clarity.What we say must echo what we believe and what we do! If we know strategically that our vision is this, then we have to ask: are the activities we are pursuing consistent with this? Are they going to lead us along the path that we need to get to the destination we all know? If not, then we need to clarify! Brian Sooy is the founder and design director of Aespire ® , a design and marketing communications agency working with nonprofits, foundations, and other meaningful causes. He advises professionals and leaders from mission-driven organizations on positioning, marketing, and communications principles to help connect their purpose and mission with their audience. Brian serves on the board of directors and executive committee of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio as a volunteer. His new book, Raise Your Voice .
need to begin with the end in mind.” That’s totally Stephen Covey: begin with the end, and then look at the interim objectives that we need to meet. Clarity regarding our actions causes us to ask, “What do we need to start today in order to meet objective one? What do we need to start tomorrow to meet objective two? Three days from now, to meet objective three?” When those three objectives are met, they all come together to meet the main objective. Clarity Process Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter? What difference are you making? A lot of people just say, “Well, we’re going to do this, so you do this and you do this and we’ll hope it comes together at some point.” They’re thinking tactically, not strategically. They’re thinking about the things they can do without thinking what the end is going to be. That comes down to vision: what do we want it look like at the end of the day? We must be mindful as we are seeking clarity in our cause, values, and vision that we don’t fail to remember clarity in our
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