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.


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