5 minutes

WTF is a Powerball?!

by Richard Doughty

It’s the Swiss Army Knife of business development; a multi-purpose tool that can cut to the heart of what drives business growth, while strengthening the things that make your business unique and competitive. 

But the Powerball’s true strength comes from what it reveals about you as a Founder and the kind of impact you want to have. The more you understand what your Powerball tells you, the more seamlessly and joyfully your business will grow. 

So what the f*** actually is the Powerball?

Growing pains

Growing your business is tough. You as the Founder have to consider so many variables and potential pitfalls, and if you drop the wrong ball your business will be like all those others that simply stagnate, whither, or die.

Making it worse are all the red herrings – the things that seem significant but are actually distractions. They come in different forms; things that feel urgent but aren’t important, projects that are exciting but unnecessary, and the constant temptation of taking on work that is outside your core-business. Businesses typically approach the question of how to stay on course by drafting business plans and strategies, and hoping their businesses will grow in the process.

There is an alternative though – one that Wyseminds has found to create growth automatically and naturally, all while keeping your business focused on what you’re there to do: by being strongly led by your purpose.

Purpose-led entrepreneurship

It’s not enough to have your purpose written down in a document that gathers dust on a shelf – your business’s purpose is what should be leading your decisions every day.

The Powerball was developed by Wyseminds for this very reason, as a tool to help entrepreneurs run purpose-led businesses. The crux lies in knowing where to focus your efforts – out of all the parts of your complex and multi-faceted business, what should you prioritise to ensure you really embody your purpose?

The Powerball sets your sights on 4 areas to align. We call them ‘Drivers’ because these are the areas of your business within your control that drive business growth:

Driver #1: Purpose

Yes the whole thing is about purpose, but here we’re looking at whether you’re giving your organisation’s purpose the status it needs; specifically in the things you decide to measure, and celebrate. 

I was once in a Board meeting of a charity for people with learning disabilities. On hearing the news that they had reached £1 million turnover they gave themselves a big round of applause. It was an impressive feat, and the result of a lot of time and effort… but it was the only time I ever saw them celebrate anything. In all my work with them I didn’t see them celebrate the times they’d helped vulnerable people, or things that would be a better measure of how well their organisation was fulfilling its purpose of supporting vulnerable adults. Within one year the charity lost it all, and closed.

What gets measured may get managed – but what we celebrate can sometimes be the things that are easier to measure, like sales numbers, revenue, or social media followers, and not the things that tell us if we are really achieving our purpose.

Driver #2: Team

The focus on your team is about whether everyone knows what purpose they’re there for, and if they’re all pulling in the same direction.

The classic story here is the janitor working at NASA during the Apollo missions. He was mopping floors on the day President Kennedy visited, and when JFK asked him what he did he confidently replied that he was helping to put a man on the moon. (The story is allegedly apocryphal, but it illustrates the kind of alignment we’re looking for).

But ‘team’ doesn’t just mean your employees. It’s also your wider business team, including your suppliers, your partners, your investors etc. Your team is an ecosystem, and thinking of how we connect and align that wider team with your purpose is much more in keeping with the role we as business leaders are increasingly expected to play in society. 

Driver #3: Business

This is where we get to think about how your business operates day to day – the policies, the procedures, the structures etc. The focus here is on what determines the way you do your work, and how progress is made.

When a business focuses more on doing things right than on doing the right things, we sometimes see them get stuck in a rut. This commonly happens when an organisation holds on to systems and structures of the past, beyond the point when they are serving their customer, or their purpose. Getting this part of the Powerball right means that your procedures and processes are in service of your business’s purpose, not the other way around.

Driver #4: Customer

This final Driver is critical, and it all comes down to how aligned you are with the people who use your products/services. Some businesses will conduct market research, and perhaps establish customer avatars, and leave it there – but in addition to knowing their customers, a purpose-led business must connect with them.

If it’s the kind of relationship where you know and understand each other, so much so that you can anticipate their needs. This anticipation becomes more sophisticated as the business grow, and you become able to test your assumptions and biases with data and evidence.

So it’s not enough to assume you know what your customer needs, you have to test your assumptions and ultimately build a genuine connection with your customer.

Alignment

Why these 4? 

Because Purpose, Team, Business, and Customer are the most important Drivers to achieving seamless growth. If you get these 4 sorted, then you’re 80% of the way there.

The trick with all of these is alignment. Both vertical alignment (ensuring that, for example, what you say is your purpose is really what you are measuring and celebrating), but also horizontal alignment where each Driver reflects and supports the others. A typical example of a company with horizontal misalignment is when a business says they value sustainability and social justice, but their Team includes suppliers who profit from poor labour or environmental standards.

Here’s the interesting thing though – your Powerball represents the things that make you unique and different from all the other businesses out there who may offer similar products/services. Being unique is essential to having a competitive edge, and your Powerball helps amplify that competitive advantage.

Being aligned on these key Drivers is also more sustainable over the longer term. It allows you to innovate and experiment from a strong core, and if your growth is purpose-led then it is built to last, especially in the eyes of the community you serve.


A personalised growth guide
Wyseminds uses a Founder evaluation to assess how aligned your Powerball is. It’s online, takes 20 minutes, and it’s completely free.It asks about your current growth phase, and explores how aligned you, your team, and your business are with your purpose and your customer. If you want, it can even estimate how much more you could be earning if you align these key Drivers. At the end you receive a bespoke and personalised growth guide that gives you your next right step.Wyseminds believes that growth is a natural consequence of being a purpose-led business. If you align all the right things, the things that matter, then you will be primed for growth that is seamless and joyful. To receive your own bespoke growth guide and begin your growth journey, take the Wyseway growth evaluation.

Richard Doughty

Richard is a policy and communications consultant, supporting NGOs and socially-conscious organisations internationally. He was the chair of the Commission on the Leadership & Direction of Civil Society, and worked as a lobbyist and campaigner in the justice, education, and charity sectors. Now based in the Netherlands, he is the founder of Doughty Consultancy and provides consultancy and training in persuasion, communication skills, and policy development. 

Find out more about Richard’s experience