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What’s the purpose of your company?

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What’s the purpose of your company?

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Purpose is important for any endeavour we undertake, be that building an online community or a multinational organisation.  It provides not just a motive for existing, but also a culture around which people are expected to achieve those goals and ambitions.

Each year Deloitte produce a culture and beliefs survey that looks to explore how companies attempt to foster this unified approach to their work.  The latest version, which surveyed over 1,300 people, was released this week.

The findings reinforce the importance of culture and purpose to the long-term success we all try and achieve.  Of the respondents who felt their company had a strong sense of purpose, an impressive 91% reported excellent financial results inthe past year.  Of those, 89% had a clear and distinct brand, with 94% delivering excellent customer satisfaction.

The report does however reveal that such companies are not in majority.  Some 66% of respondents felt that their employer was not doing enough to instill a sense of purpose in their work, which in turn contributed to less than stellar financial results.

How to build that common purpose

The report outlined three ways executives can help to build the kind of shared purpose people so crave.

  1. Offer employee development programs
  2. Provide products/services that offer meaningful impact to customers
  3. Provide products/services that benefit society

All of which sounds simple, but sadly there is a strong disconnect between executives and employees on how well this is being achieved.  Whilst an average of 75% of executives think they do each of these things well, just over 50% of employees believe they do.

Do your customers buy into your purpose?

An interesting point that the report doesn’t mention however is that of your customers.  We’re increasingly living in an age where customers and other stake holders are co-creating your products.  They’re increasingly helping you with your innovation or your customer support.  They’re helping to drum up finance and investment for new products or an expansion.  It’s crucial therefore that these people buy-in to your vision and purpose just as much as your employees, if not more so.  Indeed, I’d argue that without having a winning purpose it will be impossible to engage outsiders in your mission.  Offering a salary might paper over the cracks with employees, but when motivation is purely intrinsic, you need to do better to engage with outsiders.

With the perception of executives and employees so far apart, it doesn’t seem a stretch to suggest that a similar sized gap will exist between executives and customers.  Such an environment is far from condusive to the creation of a social business.  More and more, business is not something you do to someone, or even for them, but with them.  Now is the time for that penny to drop.

Check out the full Deloitte report below, and let me know your thoughts via the comments.


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