Purpose driven organisations: high performing engagement.

Graham Andrewartha | Director| MCA group

David Baldwin, in his book, The belief economy, summed up the business importance of purpose like this, “Without profit, purpose is irrelevant for a business because, um, no business. But without purpose a business will not be able to operate as efficiently as possible. ”

Organisational purpose is a key factor for the success of any business. It is what drives the organisation forward and allows it to fulfil its greater mission. A strong  purpose can help create clear goals, motivate employees, and align the team with a higher goal. The purpose of a business directly affects organisational change, has an solid impact on culture, and on  performance.

Organisational purpose is a sense of mission or vision that drives the organisation forward. It is what makes the organisation what it is and helps it fulfil its greater mission. Purpose derives from the values and meaning of why we do what we do.

An organisation is like a ship sailing on the open ocean. Its purpose is to reach its destination, and the captain and crew are dedicated to that goal.

This diagram from HBR puts it like this:

Some examples of organisational purpose are:

Saving people money so they can live better. – Walmart

Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business. – ING

To drive human progress through freedom of movement. Ford Motor Co.

Hear the thought behind these aspirations. Who wouldn’t want to work there? The purpose is something that the janitor, Sales manager and Director can believe in.

What is the difference between organisational purpose and vision?

It is common for organisations to have a vision and mission. A purpose may be thought of as the driving force behind the vision and mission. For example, Apple’s vision is to “bring the power of technology and great design to everyone”. This vision is in alignment with its mission to make the best products in the world. They are driven by their purpose which is to challenge the status quo and bring innovation and change.

How do we create a purpose?

There are a number of techniques that can be used to create a purpose:

  • Reflecting on the values and beliefs of your organisation
  • Brainstorming with key stakeholders
  • Reviewing the organisation’s mission and vision statements
  • Conducting research into the future of your industry or area in which you work.
  • Exploring the history of your organisation
  • Making comparisons with other organisations that share similar values and beliefs
  • Interviewing staff, customers or stakeholders about their aspirations for the organisation.

Once you have created your purpose statement, you can use it to guide decision making and as a reference point for further planning. Purpose statements are a good guide to plans and actions. An action plan is what you decide you need to do to achieve your purpose statement.

Achieving peak (purposeful) performance

For many organisations however , there is a gap between purpose and performance. Lauren Bartlett, in a current Forbes magazine article wrote, “The purpose gap is easy to define; it describes the difference between the desire for meaning at work and what is actually experienced. But closing the gap requires more—an intentional approach to connect employees to customers, reinforcing the importance of a team’s work and affecting change in the organisation.”

Recent McKinsey research suggests that 70% of employees feel their sense of purpose is defined by their work, and 62% said that while they get some purpose from work, they seek even more. When encouraging purpose-driven action, it’s critical to demonstrate support from the highest levels of leadership. Only when leaders understand and demonstrate they know the impact of change and shape their strategies and behaviours accordingly, can the true purpose be realised.

Like to discuss your organisation’s purpose?

Then please contact us by phone on 1300 856 480 or by email people@mca-group.com.au.