What is purpose anyway?

We describe Purposeful Strategy as “the unlocking of the competitive advantage inherent in understanding and acting upon an organisation’s aspirational beliefs.” But what do we mean by aspiration beliefs? What really is purpose?

Simon Sinek does an excellent job in explaining a starting point for this with his concept of Start With Why (excuse poor audio). The most successful companies, Sinek claims, are those that understand why they do what they do. And not just understand it, but use it to communicate to consumers. Which is why we’d all happily buy a music player from Apple – a technology company – but not from Dell or Gateway – also technology companies.

Purpose itself doesn’t have to be altruistic, but it is the reason you do things beyond just making a profit. Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands research allows us to see some of the shared traits of ‘meaningful’ businesses. Yes, ethics, diversity and a collective sense of civic responsibility are all part of it. But so too is making useful, good quality products, making life easier for customers and developing new ideas and skills.

So how do you marry these two elements? At its heart, what purpose does is provide meaning to business and benefit to society.

Purpose = Meaning + Benefit

Meaning. Why do you do what you do? What products and services are right for you to invest in? Why do your employees make the trek in each day? What new markets should you explore? To be truly meaningful, purpose should help you answer these questions.

Benefit. What benefit to society does your business, product or service provide? Who and how is it helping? This could be on a personal level, a social level or an environmental one.

If your purpose it right, it should make it easier to run your business well.  Purpose is the function that aids strategic decision-making, allowing you to answer big questions a little easier.

WayOutWhere is a consultancy specialising in Purposeful Strategy and digital transformation. If you’re interested in discovering, developing or utilising your company’s purpose, then we’d would love to help you.

hello@wayoutwhere.com

Show, don’t tell

We believe that purposeful businesses hold a competitive advantage. A clear purpose can help force clarity of message and can guard against damaging short-term decision making. So far, so good.

The digital aspect to what we do is interesting, because digital technology allows us to build services and products for our customers. If we align these services with our purpose, what we produce becomes the digital embodiment of those services.

Or, we’re not just telling people about our purpose, we’re actually showing them. That’s an exciting starting point for digital transformation.

WayOutWhere is a consultancy specialising in Purposeful Strategy and digital transformation. If you’re interested in discovering, developing or utilising your company’s purpose, then we’d would love to help you.

hello@wayoutwhere.com

Purposeful Businesses

There is a mountain of evidence that purposeful businesses – those that understand and articulate a purpose above and beyond maximising shareholder value – are more successful.

As far back as 2015, Harvard Business School released a report entitled, “The Business Case for Purpose“, which found that companies where purpose was articulated and clearly understood saw revenue growth almost 50% greater than those that did not.

Or look at Havas Media’s Meaningful Brands report. In the 2017 edition, they reported that purposeful brands have outperformed the stock market by 206% over the last 10 years.

Or look at this report on the ‘New Conscience of Wall Street’, including this quote from Larry Fink, the founder, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management fund.

“Purpose unifies employees, helps companies see their customers’ needs more clearly, and drives better long-term decision-making.”

We’ve reached a point where the singular pursuit of profit is unlikely to be the best way of running a business. Where an understanding that the pressures of quarterly reports to the stock market create a short-termism that can derail companies and force bad decisions.

Or, to put it another way, moving away from trying to solely maximise shareholder value might be the best way in the long term to achieve exactly that.

WayOutWhere is a consultancy specialising in Purposeful Strategy and digital transformation. If you’re interested in discovering, developing or utilising your company’s purpose, then we’d would love to help you.

hello@wayoutwhere.com