Running a company means that more often than not, you’ve got more on your plate than you can handle. Even taking a few minutes to read a blog like this one could feel like an extravagant “waste” of time. Yet, it is vitally important to take time to examine and question the intangible aspects of your business.

When ignored, things can go awry and your business can end up in a place you had not imagined. A recent HBR article poses 4 critical questions about the intangibles that define your company’s purpose. Take a few more minutes to think about them now.

Is your company’s purpose specific enough? It’s inevitable that something will happen that calls your company’s purpose into question. Do you have a specific enough purpose that you can defend against potential business actions that may allow you to lose focus? Is it defined enough that your employees are clear and focused on the company’s objectives? Make sure your statement of purpose is written out and that everyone knows where to find it.

What is fixed and what is flexible? Rigidity is the enemy of innovation. But constant change isn’t good for organizations seeking stability either. The core purpose of the organization should remain fixed and it should be a driving factor for everyone in the organization. At the same time, look for opportunities to add or subtract elements to your company purpose as business dictates.

How do you defend your company’s purpose against short-term temptations? Sometimes, business dictates a slight shift in purpose. Other times it’s in the company’s best interest to resist the temptation to undergo a shift. Be prepared to defend why or why not the present circumstances do or do not necessitate that kind of shift.

How is the company’s purpose connected to your own? Last but certainly not least, you need to fully understand your personal relationship to your company’s purpose. If your view has been that they are two separate things not to be confused or intermingled, you may not be in the right place. Though they don’t need to be one in the same, you should have some sort of relationship to your company’s purpose.

These questions are complicated, but critical. They aren’t meant to be sussed out in an afternoon, but pondered and discussed intermittently. Have you had an interesting experiencing discussing or defining your company’s purpose? I’d love to hear about it so let me know in the comments below.

photo credit: Existential Singularity via photopin (license)