Purpose as parable and proof

We work with clients to achieve a clear sense of purpose and self

So much is being written about the role of Purpose within business – and there is a risk that it is taken as a fad, rather than something constructive for business leaders and owners. In our experience, it is vital that Purpose is not superficial. It must be dynamic, full of meaning and inspirational for all stakeholders. But it cannot be just a form of words in an annual report, or a one-off colleague conference.

For us and our clients, it should provide guidance for decision making across the organisation. In this way, it must be both Parable – full of meaning and guidance; and Proof – day-to-day evidence of belief and differentiation in action.

From our work over the decades, we have identified five key learnings – or suggestions.

Purpose creates differentiation and desirability – and, over time, sustained commercial success

Purpose is not dull and worthy. It is not cynical or lazy. Completely the opposite.

Purpose should inspire and inform – a parable for practice

Parables are stories but with added power. They emphasise consequences and results. They transcend specificity and convey a higher truth and a lesson for all time.

Purpose directs the entirety of the proposition – made manifest through the totality of experiences and behaviours

Without Purpose, there are no right and wrong ideas. Without Purpose, strategic drift is inevitable. Without Purpose, a business cannot know its own mind, or judge its own actions.

Purpose is systematic and collaborative – implemented and reviewed with rigour and honesty

A Purpose project never ends. It is refreshed, or compromised, by every action that a business takes. It needs constant vigilance, nurturing and respect.

Purpose is the responsibility of ownership and leadership – and existential and important for everyone

Purpose must drive the whole business, for customer and colleague. It must inspire your people and your customers; your shareholders and your professional partners.