Designing Purpose: 5 Questions for Paul Pierson

Before joining BrightHouse, our newest MD Paul Pierson served as Managing Partner at a boutique branding agency in New York. There, he built digital and brand strategy capabilities around a core design-driven philosophy, focusing on finance, professional services, hospitality, and technology companies. He has helped established brands break through and new brands find differentiated positioning. Now, he’s helping BrightHouse expand our capabilities.


Why did you join BH and what do you hope to accomplish here?
I come from the world of brand strategy and design, and getting to the ‘why’ question always felt like the most valuable part of our work. Too often this isn’t given the attention it deserves. When an organization understands and acts based on their reason for being, it gives so much clarity to employees, executives, and is a tremendous jumping off point for creative expression. One of the main things I hope to accomplish is taking the amazing Purpose work we do and finding more ways to embed it deep into the heart of organizations and their customers.

Which of our Purpose Principles is your favorite and why?
So hard to choose, but I’ll go with “intelligence having fun.” To me this isn’t simply about enjoyment, but about quality of work. The playful energy of multiple minds sparking together is an intoxicating feeling, and it leads each person to do better than they could alone. That energy is very much alive here, all the way from how projects are run to how the business is run

Tell us about your obsessions and why they’re relevant to BrightHouse?
It was rather late in my adult life that I realized my entire history could be viewed as a series of ebbing and flowing obsessions. I tend to get very focused and invested in a few things at a time, and they last anywhere from a few months to a few years. Currently LEGO is my creative outlet obsession. In the past it’s been things like creating workshop methodologies, running, photography, playing the trumpet, and web/UX design. All of these things stay with me, even after the obsession has faded.

The truth is, consulting is the perfect profession for an oscillator like me. I very much use this inclination to get obsessed with a client, going really deep into understanding and experiencing who they are and what drives them. That orientation and ability – that’s really an institutional muscle here at BrightHouse.

Why is design thinking critical for Purpose?
Design thinking can be boiled down to three words: make, test, iterate. The thing is, that’s not how you should create Purpose. You can’t build prototypes of your core reason for being and see which one works. Purpose must be excavated and uncovered. For each organization, there is really only one, and we can find it. However, once you know that Purpose, then design thinking is extremely relevant. As you move into embedding the best of who you are into all the experiences people have with your organization, there should be a bias towards making and launching, then measuring both business impact and alignment with Purpose, and refining experiences to be more impactful and more Purposeful. This keeps Purpose alive and thriving in perpetuity.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your dogs?
My wife and I have two lovely Italian Greyhounds, one and eight years old. The little guy has just started to really enjoy running, and he is fast. So while they spend most of their time on the couch napping, my favorite is when I see him in a full-on sprint. He’s not very good at it yet, so he looks kind of like a rag doll flopping around extremely fast.

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