Thought Leadership Event

Why do organisations need a purpose?

Purpose is no longer just a component of organisational success, but a measure.

27th March 2018

Sacha Romanovitch and David Grayson, CBE, Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield University, discussed why purpose is so important to businesses.

Six key points about purpose from the breakfast briefing:

  1. Purpose is an organisation’s North Star. While a company’s mission and strategy are often time-bound, purpose is what helps it navigate forward and make the right decisions in the longer term. 
  2. Organisations need to change their thinking from inside out to outside in. Becoming purpose-led requires a mindset change, shifting focus away from 'what I can do', towards ‘what we collectively can do’.
  3. This isn’t something new. In the UK, organisations were historically connected to a bigger purpose. Centrica, for example, originally existed to provide heat and light to people. Businesses today need to think bigger than delivering stakeholder value and pay attention to the things that really matter.
  4. A purpose has to be authentic. It needs to explain how an organisation creates value for itself and society. If you try to impose a purpose on people, it won’t work. Organisations must consider their impact on clients, what they want for their people and also for the world they operate in.
  5. Business doesn’t thrive in isolation. There’s a building body of evidence that purposeful companies are more sustainably successful. In order to take a real step forward, businesses need to play a bigger part in society. Those that don’t, won’t be in charge of their own destiny.
  6. Starting the journey isn’t easy. Getting an organisation behind a purpose, and getting people connected to it, is a huge cultural and leadership challenge. You have to have the energy to hold your nerve and be prepared to stumble occasionally.

 > Read the event write up for more insight on why organisations need a purpose

Meet the speakers

Cranfield event series
Insight into the future of work from our event series in partnership with Cranfield School of Management Find out more

David Grayson CBE

Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield University

Connect with David @DavidGrayson_

Cranfield School of Management marks its 50th year in 2018. To celebrate we are co-hosting a series of thought leadership breakfasts exploring the issues that will influence the next 50 years of business and society.

Sacha Romanovitch

Sacha Romanovitch

CEO, Grant Thornton UK

Connect with Sacha @romanovsun