Purpose…What Is It?
Corporate purpose is the compelling reason your organization exists. It need not be a world-changing reason. Most great organizational purposes are simple yet eloquent, powerful yet doable, profound yet basic.
How do values, mission and vision align with purpose? Values are the social principles, goals, or standards upon which you base your entire operation. These are the things your organization stands for and desires to be known for by employees, customers, vendors and all associated with your enterprise. Mission is a statement that describes the nature of your business, your core products, services and core customers.
It serves as a guidebook for how your operation works and for whom. Vision represents what you believe the future should be for your company. It is your summary of your future destination, be it market position, image, financial status, reputation, service, etc.
Purpose transcends values, mission and vision. A clear purpose forces employees, shareholders, vendors and even customers to look beyond the quarterly returns and measure the performance of the organization on more than short-term financial benchmarks. It pushes all involved to ask a critically important question: are we merely making money, or are we making a difference?
Three Elements of Purpose
There are three elements of purpose—transformation, acceleration and passion. Here’s a review of each.
Transformation: By definition, transformation suggests to change the condition, nature, or function of something, to modify the very form or appearance toward a new and better end.
For example, “To honor God” or “Leave no one behind” both include a sense of taking the current situation (however good or bad) and making it better. Organizational transformation occurs as leaders set in motion the resources, talent and energy necessary to move their company toward a greater place.
Transformational leaders are not satisfied with merely managing change, but rather transforming their current circumstances into a more significant tomorrow.
Acceleration: Implies a sense of increased speed toward a specific end. At times you simply go with the flow. Yet you look for the right time to make your move…to switch lanes…to find an opening to move to the front of the pack.
Passion: Great purpose describes the heart of your organization. It engages the soul, touches the spirit and inspires those associated with the journey toward achieving it. Without a passion for purpose, people are merely showing up for work and trying not to get into trouble. Without a passion for purpose, your enterprise loses the very humanness it was designed to serve.
Achieving great results in business mandates you have a clear, specific sense of how your company impacts the lives, dreams and desires of those you serve, both internally and externally. A well-crafted purpose helps you unleash the limitless passion of all those involved to achieve excellence.
Understanding and solidifying your corporate purpose brings tremendous return on your investment in three ways.
Purpose brings focus. It eliminates things that get in the way of success, that divert well-meaning employees from achieving results.
Second, purpose simplifies. Simple does not mean simplistic. Simple denotes that great purpose helps everyone in the organization avoid esoteric jargon and cut through wasteful wandering.
Third, purpose clarifies. It helps everyone better understand their role in how to achieve overall goals. A great purpose guides teams in how to better align existing resources, people and time around those things that drive the purpose rather than waste them on irrelevant or counter-productive activities.
With a focused, simple and clear purpose ingrained with passion, transformation, and acceleration, achieving great results within an organization is very likely. Without a focused, simple, clear purpose engrained with passion, transformation and acceleration, achieving great results in improbable if not impossible.