Learning to drive

Talking with longstanding friends over the weekend, we touched on the subject of drive and self-motivation; discussing whether these attributes are innate and/or can be learned. Together we identified there are four core elements to these behaviours, which are: Purpose, Personal, Influence and Impact.

Arguably the most important, there needs to be a purpose to coalesce around.  The individual would have to be able to define the purpose with clarity and transmit to others that wouldn’t intuitively understand it.

The purpose has to be personal to the individual.  If it doesn’t resonate with them from within then the task will likely become much harder to fulfil.

There has to be an ability to contribute to change and influence the defined purpose.  Going the extra mile is difficult if solely reliant on others.

And finally, you need to see an impact of distinct change.  I think the technical term from my post-graduate days is a paradigm shift.  Perhaps a little grand but something needs to be positively different and within a reasonable timescale.  Drive may decline if there appears to be no end to the road ahead.

In applying these behaviours to a practical example, Purple Tuesday is personal to me.  I am a disabled customer and I expect my experience to be comparable to others.  I am aware of the history – I lived it – but in 2019 I am not being unreasonable to expect businesses wanting my money, to demonstrate that I am just as important as everyone else.

Most people know how the concept of Purple Tuesday came about.  I was out shopping with my partner and in 23 of the 27 shops we visited that day, frontline staff did not approach us. In the four stores we entered where staff did approach us, they did not communicate with me, but instead chose to talk only to my partner. It was personal but not offensive as I knew the fear of unintentionally offending me was the driver to swerve the conversation.

I decided on this day that something had to change and the only way to do this was to drive awareness on a large scale, which inevitably drove the purpose of Purple Tuesday.  If the experience for disabled people was to improve, then providing the tools needed to help staff and the wider organisation was the clear objective in this scenario.

Getting the message out there was a key factor in Purple Tuesday. We realised early on that the most effective way to do this would be to somehow get the media involved to ensure we gained the most influence as possible. In 2018 we secured a last-minute slot to take over Piccadilly Lights for 30 minutes at 8:30am on Purple Tuesday (11th November 2018); we were able to share our story on a much larger scale which set the bar high on the day of Purple Tuesday, resulting in numerous interviews across TV, radio and print giving us fantastic exposure to the nation on the day.

In 2019, we wanted to influence people much earlier to create an even larger impact in the lead up to and on Purple Tuesday. To do this we conducted some research on disabled people and found some astonishing results, which we then shared as a press release in the August leading up to Purple Tuesday (see the article here). Following this press release the media interviews began to roll in, which planted many more seeds in the lead up to Purple Tuesday meaning we were able to influence many more people and organisations much earlier on which really set the stage for when Purple Tuesday erupted on our screens just a couple of months later.

The impact was demonstrated by over 2,500 organisations actively participating in Purple Tuesday, not just here in the UK, but right across Europe and even reaching as far as the Middle East! Collectively, those participants have made over 3,500 commitments to improve the customer experience for disabled people which means we are achieving the purpose set out in the very beginning of all of this.

In this particular example, drive was about keeping the narrative straight and not allowing detours to traditional campaign activities. This was about organisations, so it was so important to keep the commercial argument central to our communications.

It is important now to not to get distracted by success, but to catapult ourselves into the purpose of Purple Tuesday 2020.

Mike Adams OBE
4 December 2019

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