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What is Purpose?



Imagine purpose as your personal GPS, guiding you through the twists and turns of life. It's like your own unique North Star, but what exactly is it? Well, that's a bit of a brain teaser because purpose is as unique as a fingerprint – it varies from one individual to another. In the world of business, purpose is like the guiding star. It's the "why" behind what a company does, setting the stage for all their decisions. But there's more to this story.


Some experts really emphasize the idea of businesses being responsible not only for making money but also for making the world a better place. They want businesses to be like real-life superheroes, tackling global issues. Others focus on identity and finding meaning in work, especially as employees have higher expectations these days.


Now, here's the twist. Different parts of a business see purpose in different ways. Top management and strategy teams see it as the driving force for creating value and sparking change. The investor relations folks view it as a demand from a growing number of institutional investors. In marketing, it's all about using purpose to win over customers, while the HR department uses it to give employees a sense of meaning. In communications, purpose is all about building a solid reputation.


But wait, there's more! Ian Chamandy brings an interesting perspective. He calls purpose the "lockstep" for each employee and the key to setting both company and personal goals. According to him, purpose has two sides – one that's spoken and one that's lived. It's not enough to have a purpose; it needs to be communicated and put into action. Without it, the purpose of a purpose remains incomplete, and that's why it's the essence of your unique identity within the broader company purpose.


Now, let's take a peek at Harvard Business Review's way of looking at purpose.

  1. What the world needs: This one's about addressing the world's pressing problems. How important is it, and what impact can it make?

  2. What motivates employees: What inspires the folks in the company? What kind of impact do they want to make on the world?

  3. What the business is awesome at: Every business has its superpowers. What makes it special and able to meet unique demands?

  4. Commercial prospects: Can all these factors lead to profits? Are there potential profit pools, and can the business grab a slice of that pie?




So, if you want to find your purpose, make sure it checks a few boxes:

  • Be relevant: Make sure it matters to your company, your customers, and the world. Can it really change lives?

  • Be genuine: Your purpose should align with your company's values and principles.

  • Be credible: Use your unique skills and resources to achieve a recognized goal. Make a real difference.

  • Be influential: Address significant needs and bring benefits to the table.

  • Be inspiring: Your purpose should be so precise and ambitious that it motivates people.


Here's the deal: people are most engaged when they have a clear goal, but many folks are skeptical about "mission statements." Why? Well, because too often, they're filled with empty words, and sometimes organizations forget to walk the talk.


In the end, it's pretty clear that businesses need to step up and make the world a better place. Purpose isn't just a fancy word; it's the key to rebuilding trust, meeting society's expectations, sparking innovation, and creating a more sustainable and diverse world. So, what's your purpose, and how can it change the world?


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