2018 – 2021
This is the story of growing with purpose in the highly competitive and number-driven e-commerce ecosystem.
No one can deny that a retail e-commerce company’s primary pursuit is to grow and maximize profit. Modanisa, in this case, was not exclusive. However, unlike its predecessors, Modanisa knew that profit could never be the purpose; it is merely an outcome. Tapping into the potential of the strong narrative of its inception story, it had already identified a gap between its “why” and “how” and took action.
The Modanisa Story showcases how a courageous company, among its endless possibilities, chooses the right path by trying to rediscover its purpose and redesign itself around it.
How might we realign Modanisa with its core purpose?
The odd one out: From brand identity to purpose
Modanisa, as the pioneer fashion e-retail platform providing modest women a choice that they have been longing for with the evolution of the fashion industry, has spread across 130 countries, providing services in five different languages. They could have kept the wheels rolling until further notice; yet, they knew that they needed to move beyond providing options to stay relevant and robust in a competitive world.
That’s when our paths crossed. Modanisa was looking for the shared purpose that would lead the next step of their journey as a leading global brand.
We kick-started our journey with Modanisa in 2018 with a shared purpose study to define the core that brought the organization to today and the role it plays in the future through in-depth research, discussions, and collaborative ideation. During the extensive research process, we have included multiple stakeholders starting with customers, social media influencers, experts both from fashion also from social sciences, Modanisa employees, suppliers, and partners.
Going multistakeholder when it wasn’t this trendy
Following our research, we aimed to have a multi-stakeholder approach to share our critical findings and align our perceptions. We conducted sense-check meetings with small groups consisting of key Modanisa employees, created an Advisory Board, all of whom were women and outsiders to Modanisa.
We called these meetings “Let’s meet” as they were the first step to meet with the reality of our business and how it serves the needs of Modanisa women around the world.
Once we had defined the shared purpose, our next plan was to sense-check on a broader scale, leading us to the UK, where we conducted a similar purpose study research in 2019. We had in-depth discussions with Modanisa women from all backgrounds, experts from the field’s fashion industry & academics.
Having discovered our core insight and defined our shared purpose, it was time to reveal it to the world (but internally first, of course). For us, purpose needs to be heartfelt and embodied within the organization, internalized, and reflected in the organization’s every cell. We came up with a grand launch plan and organized pre-launch leaders onboarding with all department leaders to align on the purpose and company strategy. Come to the end of 2019, we were ready for the grand “Internal Purpose Launch Event.”
In this 1-day field trip to the Modanisa Warehouse, we presented the final purpose statement to all Modanisa employees and key stakeholders. The internal launch event consisted of keynote speeches, sharing the real story behind the purpose, an exclusive panel discussion with women guided by Modanisa, and a grand finale with hearing department leaders’ purpose testimonials.
Closing the purpose-action gap
Our next goal was to uncover the gaps between aspirations and reality, reveal the critical strategic areas for improvement throughout the organization. For that reason, we designed the ‘Purpose Roundtables’, a three-hour in-depth dialogue session focused on understanding the narrative and core insight of the purpose and reflecting on the departmental responsibilities and actions required to move forward towards a purpose-driven organization.
In the Purpose Roundtables during February of 2020, we met with various departments and conducted 8 sessions with around 70 participants across 12 departments. Notable employees from each department had a chance to authentically share their perceptions and work together to identify the current purpose-action gap in their fields, develop quick action plans, and list what we called the ‘Purpose Killers’. As an outcome of the roundtables, they defined a total of 24 quick win actions.
Following all of our critical findings, we created a Purpose Roll-Out plan and prioritized the action backlog moving forward full speed in our purpose journey. The action plan has been shared with the executive team and included in the value creation plan of the company.
Redesigning oneself around purpose takes time and courage. This is a lifelong transformation journey. Knowing the shared purpose and being confident in the purpose, 2020 was the time to launch purpose-driven initiatives and slowly embed the purpose in the company.
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