Gerry Spitzner

What’s your pharmacy’s real purpose?

Why you do what you do is just as important as making money. The purpose-driven half of the formula for success involves aligning your pharmacy’s business values with your personal values. The applied benefits of your patient services extend beyond the pharmacy itself; they include inspiring innovation and positive change, providing employees with a sense of meaning and fulfillment, creating value for the customer and making a positive impact on the community.

Focus on what customers need, not on what you sell

To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others. It’s important to be customer focused (demand) vs. transactional (supply). Focusing on what customers need provides a competitive advantage, brings in new customers, and enables a pharmacy to discover improved patient services that meet real needs.

Being customer focused, rather than focused on what your pharmacy supplies, will shift your pharmacy’s purpose squarely where it needs to be in today’s marketplace; to the wants and needs of your patients. Doing so also positions your patient services in the hearts and minds of your pharmacy team as inspiration, rather than sounding like a manipulation to purchase.

A 2015 study published by Harvard Business Review, “The Business Case for Purpose” declared that companies able to harness the power of purpose to drive performance and profitability enjoy a distinct competitive advantage in strategy, operations, business development, talent management and branding.

The report defined organizational purpose as “an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organization, its partners and stakeholders, and provides benefit to local and global society.”

Create an internal purpose statement

Purpose is human, not economic. Purpose is about quality of life for your patients. Having a clearly articulated and lived purpose is the best way to scale both stakeholder and social value. It’s a quality that cannot easily be described or named, yet it drives an organization. It’s also a strategic starting point for business ideas, a product or service differentiator and an attractor of loyal talent and customers.

Purpose statements are fundamentally different from vision and mission statements. A vision statement is a declaration of what a pharmacy would like to become; something that will never be attained, but continually strived for. Mission statements describe how a pharmacy will accomplish its vison, usually including a summary of core competencies and competitive differentiation. Purpose statements explain why a pharmacy (or patient service) exists, the problem it is solving and why it’s important in today’s world.

Your business purpose is your why—it’s the reason your pharmacy exists, the reason for doing what you’re doing. Everything you do, from designing your patient services to hiring staff, to your customers’ experience, will be aligned with this purpose. It’s your North Star; it guides you when you’re lost and points you in the right direction when competing ideas are spreading you too thin. As Simon Sinek, the famed marketing consultant and TED Talk speaker, frequently notes, customers and employees are not loyal because of what a company does, but because of why it does so.

Develop your purpose statement from a WHY perspective using the Simon Sinek style. It’s one sentence that captures your unique contribution and impact:

My pharmacy’s purpose is to__________________so that__________________.

Your contribution is the actionable part of your Why. The impact is the condition in which you wish to leave the people and world around you. The impact it has on your patients’ lives. The applied benefit they seek from you. It’s your pharmacy’s purpose.

For example, a purpose statement for a pharmacy offering a pain management patient service might be: ‘We help our patients to optimize their medication so that they can focus on living their life free of the constraints of pain.’

Your staff should live your pharmacy’s purpose

Your employees are the most important audience for messages around purpose. It’s more important that the purpose resonates with the employees than with the customers. If your staff don’t live your purpose, then the customers will catch on very quickly. And then any patient service could sound hollow— like a manipulation rather than inspiration.

Your pharmacy’s purpose must first matter to you; only then will it matter to the community you serve.

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