Bad things happen when profit is separated from Purpose. The negative consequences include poor quality, myopic focus and short-term thinking that can be destructive.
Over time, organizations become consumed with surviving and reacting to the marketplace. Purpose can be forgotten, beyond the need to make money. Yet evidence is growing, particularly on Wall Street, that an organization’s commitment to fulfilling its Purpose achieves goals and elevates performance.
“A great strategy without a compelling purpose is like a beautiful highway that doesn’t lead anywhere that people want to go…culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Peter Drucker
“Culture can account for up to half of the difference in operating profit between two organizations in the same business. Shaping a culture is one of a leader’s most important jobs; it can be ignored, but only for so long and at one’s peril.” James Heskett (Harvard)
These two quotes speak to the significant role that Purpose plays in a business. Purpose is the foundation for core Principles and the related defined behaviors that craft your company’s culture. The true Purpose of your business may have been articulated by your founders, but does it still endure at the core of your organization today?
Purpose is not your vision or mission. Purpose expresses the difference your business makes in the world.
Vision describes your perspective of how the world will look once your Purpose is realized; mission specifies your core strategy required to fulfill that Purpose. Examples of Purpose include:
“To give people the freedom to fly”(Southwest)…“To alleviate pain and suffering”(J & J)…“To enable people to experience the joy of driving”(BMW)…“To satisfy the curiosity of anyone with access to the Internet”(Google)
To rediscover your Purpose, begin by identifying all of the stakeholders in your business – customers, employees, suppliers, investors, etc. Who has an interest in your business’ success? Who can help you succeed? Who could inhibit your progress? Who are the known and respected influencers?
Rank each stakeholder (high, medium, low) by your current support level and by importance to your success. Which stakeholders should you strive to influence?
Then ask as many stakeholders as possible to answer the questions below. If you stop asking once you have your managers’ responses, the exercise will fail. When you have sufficient feedback, craft your Purpose.
Rediscovering your company’s Purpose generates energy, the power that drives action. Realizing your Purpose is motivational, inspiring higher performance, innovation and continuous improvement. And it’s contagious, stimulating an entrepreneurial spirit throughout your organization.
Why does your business exist? What difference do you make? What value do you produce?
Why is that important? Why do you and your people
devote your energies to fulfilling your Purpose?
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