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:
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.