I bet you have never been asked that question before, right? Sure, we all talk about what our company’s mission is, but we seldom, if ever talk about what our purpose is.
Now let me make the prediction that if this is the first time you hear the question, it will not be the last.
But, before you answer the question as to what your company’s purpose is, you first should know what the word purpose means when it comes to your company and organization.
“Corporate purpose is at the confluence of strategy and values. It expresses the company’s fundamental or overriding reason for existing. It is the end to which strategy is directed” Richard Ellsworth
From the new book, Red Goldfish by Stan Phelps, here is what Mr. Phelps says about Purpose:
“Purpose is becoming the new black. It is emerging as a guiding light that can help businesses navigate and thrive in the 21st century. Purpose is an aspirational reason for being, that is grounded in humanity, is at the core of how many companies are responding to the business and societal challenges of today”
Every single company was started to fill a need. Somebody at some time saw a need to provide something that would fill a need, whatever that need was. That is and has always been the basic reason for any business to start…to fill a need.
Focusing on your company’s true and basic purpose is the very best way to find your direction if you have lost it. It is the perfect way to realign your company or keep it in alignment in the first place.
Here again from the Red Goldfish book are 10 benefits that your company will reap when you put purpose at the core of your business.
- Purpose instills clarity
- Purpose guides both short-term decisions and long-term strategy at every level of an organization, encouraging leaders to think about systems holistically.
- Purpose guides choices about what not to do as well as what to do.
- Purpose channels innovation.
- Purpose is a force for and a response to transformation.
- Purpose motivates people through meaning, not fear. It clarifies the long-term outcome, so people understand the need for change rather than feeling it is imposed upon them.
- Purpose is also a response to societal pressures on business to transform, to address global challenges, and to take a long-term, more comprehensive approach for growth and value.
- Purpose taps a universal need to contribute, to feel a part of society.
- Purpose recognizes differences and diversity. Purpose builds bridges.
- Purpose helps individuals/teams work across silos to pursue a single compelling aim.
Now let’s talk a minute about the differences between an organization’s Mission and its’ purpose. Mission is always talking about where we want to go, it focuses on where we want to be someday.
Purpose is the company’s very reason for its existence. It is the reason that there is a company or organization. Whether your company is a PCB shop, or a car repair shop, or a head shop, the reason it is around is because it serves a purpose.
If your company has a clear and well-defined purpose it will help you not only attract the best people with the same passion for the same purpose, but it will keep them passionate and engaged for years to come.
In terms of customers, they do business with companies with which they share values. If a company’s values mesh with theirs, they will buy from them. If they have the same purpose for being, they will buy from them and most of all if they are passionate about the same thing, they will buy from them.
Now ask yourself, what is your company’s purpose? Why are you in business in the first place? And probably the most important question is the purpose for your company the same today as it was when the company was started years ago?
And one more question, is your company’s purpose obvious? Does everyone in your company, know why you are in business…what is the purpose of your very existence? It’s only common sense.