Opinion: Why purpose?
There was a time when the world was compartmentalised – no more. There was a time when the roles of government were clear, the role of business was clear, the role of charities (as they were called) was clear.
But the world has changed – and with it, the world of business.
It’s not enough to just manufacture a product or deliver a service that ‘people want,’ or even to provide the best customer experience. We have all begun to realise that businesses, like people, are part of a larger community and that they play a role – an increasingly important and influential role in society – and with that comes the responsibility to think beyond the linear production for profit to delivery of a better business.
This has been part of my own personal journey; I have always wanted to change the world for the better.
I have been lucky that I have been able to fulfil that ambition, working with some of the best companies in the world as a brand consultant. I have always sought to create better strategies, better working companies, better environments for employees, better articulation of difference and better business. Over the years, I have seen companies begin to recognise that to be better, they could no longer (if indeed they ever could) operate a vacuum.
First and foremost, businesses are accountable to their owners, whether they are investors on a public stage, or private families or cooperative individuals. They are also accountable to governments, regulators, influencers to act in a certain way, to deliver honestly and to report their actions and increasingly, their behaviour.
Third, they are accountable to employees; no longer is it just the delivery of fair benefit because the union demands it. There is a competition to find and retain the best talent. The world is changing quickly and to succeed, companies need the best and the brightest to contribute to their success and to keep them ahead. Increasingly, employees are choosing to work with companies whose values, ambitions and behaviours align to their own beliefs system.
Clients and consumers are also choosing to buy brands they believe in. They can only do this if and when they know what those brands do believe in and stand for. In the corporate world, reputation, licence to operate and regulator support all play a large part in determining success and value.
Purpose – who you are and why you are here as well as your guiding values – are all key to success. I would even go so far as to suggest that it is one of the key game changers in the business world today and those that know this and address it will be the winners of tomorrow.
We recognise that to many, it is a complex and challenging goal; there is much to explore about purpose and much to understand.
We have embarked on a journey, through our ambitious conference programme, to open up the conversation on purpose. We will provide you with guidance and inspiration to help you discover, define, articulate and embed purpose within your own organisation.
Laura Haynes is chairman of Appetite Consultancy. For more from the 'A sense of purpose' series, click here.