"Every organization slowly builds a wall around its views on its target market, brand image, and the types of products and services it offers."

After this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Explain the impact of your association’s boundaries
2. Describe the challenges with personal purpose
3. Explain the benefits of focusing on a person’s strengths
4. Describe the benefits of tying purpose to products
5. Identify how community impacts influence

The task below will be automatically checked off once you complete taking the quiz.



The boundaries of your brand will come to define you.


That may sound a little dramatic, but it’s the truth. Whether you consciously set those boundaries or allow them to set themselves is entirely up to you.

Regardless of how it gets there, every organization slowly builds a wall around its views on its target market, brand image and the types of products and services it offers.

Everyone has limits, but limit yourself too much and you will eventually doom yourself to stagnated growth or decline.


Organizations must be confident and adventurous enough to continuously push the scope of how it views itself, from what it is to who it believes comprises its audience.


Having an understanding of what your product or service is and who it serves is critical to answering difficult questions before tackling new challenges such as:

  • Does serving this client advance our purpose?
  • What are the risks associated with this client?
  • How can I best prepare for this new project so it’s successful and has reusable parts?
  • How much will those risks cost me if they occur?
  • Am I and my team able to meet the demands in preparing for those risks?

We have all fallen victim to the temptations of shiny objects in our midst, those projects or strategies illuminated by the allure of more members, bigger revenues or simply convenience, and we will all probably do it again, too. In those moments, asking ourselves whether we should, or even need to, rarely enters the conversation.

But that doesn’t mean thinking more broadly is wrong. In fact, now more than ever, thinking beyond the scope of tradition is essential to an association’s future relevancy.


Engaging employee purpose, hoping to connect team members to their jobs in ways that drive productivity and performance toward undeniably positive results.


The trouble with purpose is it can take a long time for someone to find what theirs is. Some may find it very early in life and pursue it from the start of their education and career, but for most, it takes a long time to work it out.


Focusing on Strengths

Focus on strengths rather than purpose.

It’s more efficient to leverage a person’s strengths more effectively than to spend too much time and resources trying to support their weaknesses.

While purpose is a great thing to look for and something that really drives and excites people, if you can focus on someone’s strengths, purpose can be found more quickly.

Focusing on strengths means putting people into positions they’ll likely thrive in and enjoy the most. This requires being aware of weaknesses rather than covering them up.

Sometimes, people are very good at something and they can get paid well for it, but they really enjoy doing something else more. With today’s increasingly collaborative and choice-friendly work environment, it’s easier for people to do both.


For every product, whether a service or a material good, we have to know its purpose, which requires understanding who would use it and why. By connecting your product to something larger, wouldn’t it feel more important, exciting and authentic than just a thing you’re trying to sell?


Keeping the purpose alive in your product results in an emotional connection for your team and the outside world. This is the super-charger you’ve been looking for to drive growth and accelerate internal teams.


Ultimately, when associations have a clear ideology with a Core Purpose and Core Values, their products are given greater importance and therefore have more uses.

Then, it’s a matter of explaining to others exactly how the association is living its purpose through its product. If people are not impressed, then go back to the drawing board and figure out how you can either align the association’s purpose and product more distinctly or explain the relationship more clearly.

A product can only be as good as your ability to provide it. You have to know what you do best, and you have to be humble enough to acknowledge what someone else does better than you and let go of it. Every organization has weak points. Finding where yours are is easier if you’re willing to look with a critical eye.


Technology advancements allow a new type of collaborative purchasing to take place, with shoppers trusting customer reviews far more than marketing campaigns.


If associations are to thrive in the future as they have in the past, they must embrace the priorities of the larger communities they knowingly and unknowingly interact with and depend upon.


To do so means associations will have to become more of an integrated member of the communities they serve and recruit from.


No Purpose = No Community Engagement


Chances are if you haven’t yet discovered your values and purpose, then your culture and the products created within it won’t resonate very well with any community. And if an association tries to build its philosophical identity solely around the hopes of attracting a particular community, then it will surely wind up with one that is too disingenuous to motivate anyone, whether inside or outside the organization’s borders.

People are motivated by authenticity, especially as it relates to purpose. We want to know the product/service in question will be of good quality, and perhaps the best way of knowing that is by examining whether the organization behind the product/service genuinely believes in it.


Brands capable of connecting people are driven in large part by our innate desire to belong. In an increasingly global society where we are able to interact with others in ways that are relatively limitless compared to decades past, people are seeking out their “tribe” through a shared purpose. We are no longer confined by geography alone, and so our options for finding belonging can now be more specialized. For most businesses, that kind of connectivity also means more competition, meaning brands must focus on their purpose.

To do that, organizations should look outside their traditional marketing boundaries to see who they could be engaging with their brand.


To maintain the momentum of growth you need to:

  • Have all your people rethinking the many different things their work does
  • Build on your uniqueness
  • Use your courage and creativity to enter uncharted territory and learn
  • Look at what your members value the most and what attributes they most appreciate
  • Find out what your best peers do better than you and what they do better than anyone

Once you’ve identified strengths, then answer the following questions:

  • What companies do they do business with?
  • What programs do they use?
  • How do they hire?
  • How do they train?
  • How do they market their product?
  • What’s appealing about their brand? (It’s almost always customer service, price, convenience and quality of the end product, but even the aesthetic elements can go a long way.)

Hold yourself to the highest standards. And, while you may not be able to meet every one of them every time, you will always find ways to be better than you currently are.

Without the excitement of progress and competition, complacency will take hold throughout the organization.





Key Points


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Activities to apply this lesson’s concepts


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See if you understand the concepts by completing the quiz. Click Finding and Engaging Your Community Quiz to begin.

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