Big thinking on why purpose pays
Mike Hall always said that “everything should start with a clear end in mind”. Without this, he argued, it’s easy to lose yourself and others. In my view, this is what having a clear purpose is all about. It’s about knowing why you exist and what it is you do to create value in the world.
Every organisation is dealing with enormous change. Industries are being overhauled as digital transformation takes hold. In a time of continuous upheaval, the certainty of a clear, guiding purpose and set of principles helps keep organisations focused on what matters.
What is exciting, is how digital allows us all to take a wider and a higher-order look at what an organisation actually does and how it can contribute more broadly, beyond the products and services it provides. Kraft’s ‘Everyday Delicious’ initiative delivers beyond the food itself to include recipes, books and digital services through publishing and online content. It’s also a call to action to do something more significant for the wellbeing of others.
Like every brand, purpose needs to be true to the organisation and to the value it creates. It should make sense of everything the organisation does, the talent it needs and the behaviours it encourages. Purpose is not a desire to do good in the world. This is CSR activity, which often gets confused with the intent involved in having a closely defined purpose.
I think if every organisation was more precise about its role in the world, and made this clear to employees and customers, it would be easier to create strong, profitable and engaging brands. Conflict comes when intent and clarity are missing.
Purpose Pays is a collection of views on purpose, the word that seems to be on everyone’s lips and every board agenda. There are many different interpretations. However, the growing need to define purpose more clearly can only be good.