by Dan Beaulieu
“Corporate purpose is at the confluence of strategy and values. It expresses the company’s fundamental – the raison d’etre or overriding reason for existing. It is the end to which strategy is directed.” – Richard Ellsworth, From the new book, Red Goldfish, by Stan Phelps. Here is what Mr. Phelps says about Purpose
“Purpose is becoming the new black. It is emerging as a guiding light that can help businesses navigate and thrive in the 21st century. Purpose is an aspirational reason for being, that is grounded in humanity, is at the core of how many companies are responding to the business and societal challenges of today.”
Okay, here is my take on this. When you talk about purpose you are talking about the reason why you are in business, why your company is in business. Think back to when you started your business and try to remember why the business was started way back then?
Every single company was started to fill a need. Somebody at some time saw a need to provide something that would fill a need, whatever that need was. That is and has always been the basic reason for any business to start…to fill a need.
Now think back, what was that need? Why did your company start in the first place and what need did it fill then? Is it still filling that basic need today? Is your company still doing what it was founded to do in the first place?
Focusing on your company’s true and basic purpose is the very best way to find your direction if you have lost it. It is the perfect way to re-align your company if it has come out of alignment or keep it in alignment at all times.
- Purpose instills clarity.
- Purpose guides both short-term decisions and long-term strategy at every level of an organization, encouraging leaders to think about systems holistically.
- Purpose guides choices about what not to do as well as what to do.
- Purpose channels innovation.
- Purpose is a force for and a response to transformation.
- Purpose motivates people through meaning, not fear. It clarifies the long-term outcome, so people understand the need for change rather than feeling it is imposed upon them.
- Purpose is also a response to societal pressures on business to transform, to address global challenges, and to take a long-term, more comprehensive approach for growth and value.
- Purpose taps a universal need to contribute, to feel a part of society.
- Purpose recognizes differences and diversity. Purpose builds bridges.
- Purpose helps individuals/teams work across silos to pursue a single compelling aim.
Now let’s talk a minute about the differences between an organization’s Mission and its purpose. Mission is always talking about where we want to go, it focuses on where we want to be someday.
If your company has a clear and well-defined purpose it will help you not only attract the best people with the same passion for the same purpose, but it will keep them passionate and engaged for years to come.
Now ask yourself, what is your company’s purpose? Why are you in business in the first place? And probably the most important question: is the purpose for your company the same today as it was when the company was started years ago.
And one more question: is your company’s purpose obvious? Does everyone in your company, and I mean everyone, know why you are in business? What is the purpose of your very existence? Having a strong and clear purpose is the best way to grow your business.
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