How to define business purpose


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Many organizations lack a singular purpose that unifies employees across all functions. Increased collaboration, productivity, and retention are just a few of the benefits. This whitepaper provides 3 criteria and some examples to help you define business purpose and engage your organization in the process.l

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How to define business purpose

  1. 1. How to: Define Business Purpose By Lawrence McGlown and Michael Manross “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your purpose.” ARISTOTLE
  2. 2. Purpose-driven organizations grow three-fold over their competition.1 The McGlown Group { 2 } Organizations are built by, and for, people. So, it comes as no surprise that people drive organizational growth. Employees, customers, and investors are attracted to organizations by shared appreciation for the benefits created. 1 Source: Millward Brown’s Stengel 50 study, as referenced in Grow, by Jim Stengel. A business purpose puts a stake in the ground – stating what an organization stands for and believes in. It provides a beacon for decision- making, while empowering people to make the purpose real – again and again. PURPOSE STARTS WITH A STATEMENT When creating a business purpose for a team or organization, engaging stakeholders in the process will expose various perspectives and ensure the final business purpose is actionable. Through conversations, surveys, and other methods, themes will emerge regarding how employees believe the organization benefits peoples’ lives. When developing a business purpose, use these three calibration criteria: • Think big! How can the organization change people’s lives? Identify specific ways that benefit people over time. Although the purpose can evolve, putting a stake in the ground is necessary for the foreseeable future. • Be true to your core. Purpose is the foundation for distinction. Relevance is clarified by what the organization can do for the world, while uniqueness is clarified by how the organization goes about creating its value. The key is to combine the two components of distinction in a bold manner that removes any doubt regarding the role of the organization. • Be clear & concise. Make it easy for employees to understand and recall the purpose. Find balance of clarity without confinement, and inspire employees without fluff, jargon or anything that requires several years of tenure. GENERIC VS. SPECIFIC Most organizations have a defined purpose. However, approaches vary from generic to specific. When purpose is generic, just about any company name can be attached to it. In these organizations, performance drivers like internal alignment, product/service propositions, and customer experience are weak. Conversely, when purpose is specific, it’s difficult to swap out company names. In addition to the performance drivers being buttoned-up, their reputations tend to outrank their competition. Independent of influence over an organization’s business purpose, functional leaders can influence change. Just as an organization has many sub-cultures defined by a team’s leader, each team should develop their own business purpose and identify ways that they will make the organization’s purpose real.
  3. 3. Generic Specific “We build, move, power and cure the world.” “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” “One team. One plan. One goal.” “help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.” Disclaimer – terms like mission, purpose, ideal, etc. are umbrellas. We believe organizations stay on track by working towards a singular cause that benefits people. “Purpose” translates easiest across industries and functions. When assessing these statements, which one(s): • offer infinite possibilities for growth as people re-imagine how to make the statement real? • are easy to understand and apply during daily decision making? • are unique to one organization because it best delivers on the purpose? FINAL QUESTION When employees understand how to act on a business purpose, they are empowered to make it real – again and again. So, what is your organization asking its employees to do? EXAMPLES Let’s look at examples of generic and specific purpose statements: or
  4. 4. The McGlown Group helps organizations translate business strategy into messaging tools that clarify what to do as an employee, and what to expect as a customer. The deliverables drive alignment between employee and customer beliefs, while pinpointing when the customer promise is, or is not, made real – and what to do about it. To contact The McGlown Group, email or call {317}800-8319. Execute as PROMISED Michael’s approach, eliminating complexities, makes brands easier for people to understand and use. Why is Alignment necessary? “Employees and customers decide which brands they will work with and advocate for. When their beliefs are aligned, strong relationships are built and grown.” Michael Manross STRATEGY DIRECTOR Lawrence’s approach, shaping brands with beliefs shared by employees and customers, has driven growth across numerous brands. Why is Alignment necessary? “To keep employees, who all affect what customers experience, informed on how to execute as promised.” Lawrence McGlown MANAGING DIRECTOR ABOUT THE AUTHORS ©2013 The McGlown Group All Rights Reserved • Entertainment • Wine & Spirits • Food & Beverage • Quick-service Restaurants • Education • Museums • Healthcare • Medical Devices • Oil & Gas • Supply Chain & Logistics • Consulting • Distribution • Technology • Retail INDUSTRYS SERVED