Purpose as an organizing principle
A strategic, credible and unifying purpose rooted in your business proposition cultivates confidence in what you stand for, fosters trust and connects you to something bigger.
There is no doubt the world of business is rapidly changing. We’re faced with a confluence of crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, social injustice, increasing economic disparity and the challenge to democracy – all of which are forcing leaders to reflect on how their organizations contribute to inequity and the role they should play in society moving forward. In this environment, employees, customers, investors and wider stakeholders increasingly want to interact with brands that stand for something and aim to create social good alongside financial value.
Ultimately, solving more purposeful problems is better business. It gives customers a reason to select your brand in a crowded field, employees something beyond a paycheck to be inspired by and investors an opportunity to create social value while earning a financial return. This isn’t about idealism or activism. It’s about providing solutions to people’s personal ‘me‘ needs and their generalized ‘we‘ worries about the economy, society and the planet.
Importantly, whether overtly stated or not, every business has a purpose. The most effective embody a company’s ethos, guide and benchmark behaviors and are broad enough to tie a social mission to your business strategy.
- Clarify a purpose that frames the story of how your brand interacts with and impacts people through the products and services you offer, and how that creates both financial and social value
- Gain a wider, systems perspective on the greater role you serve
- Set expectations and identification of relevant benchmarks to guide strategic decisions going forward
- An understanding of how you live within bigger narratives – those of your employees, customers other stakeholders
- Stress tested purpose statement of “why we’re in business” that’s inspiring, engaging and authentic
- Operating principles or pillars that support your purpose
- List of implications and next steps to begin taking action now