Why do some organisations succeed while others fail?

Surviving, let alone thriving, in today’s built environment market isn’t easy. But the organisations that work it out have one thing in common: they pursue Purpose before profit. And in doing so, profit follows.

The reason is that Purpose mobilises the people behind a brand in a way that solely pursuing money never can. For a brand to thrive, it needs to be infused and propelled by a guiding Purpose in everything it does.

Purpose enables brands to build a strong, sustainable, and scalable culture. It’s that invisible yet tangible element which drives an organisation upwards. Purpose can be many things: a strategic starting point, a product or service differentiator, and an organic attractor of customers or members. Without a Purpose, an organisation manages people and resources. With a Purpose, it mobilises people and resources.

Organisations have used a Purpose to achieve lasting value. Here’s what can be learnt from their success.

1. Define your narrative

A compelling narrative for your organisation cuts through the ambiguity which surrounds its general business functions – be that selling products or attracting members.

Google, for instance, has many functions and offers a famously perk-driven culture. Yet the most significant aspect of its global success is a clear Purpose: “to organise the world’s information, and make it universally accessible and useful”. Every product Google develops is intended to move it one step closer to fulfilling this Purpose.

It’s this “purposeful narrative” which propels Google’s success with new technologies, products, and services. It also creates an ongoing challenge for which its teams continually strive to create solutions.

Google’s Purpose is not only a driver of strategy and a recruitment tool, but a way for it to make a difference to the world. That’s a powerful reason for them to exist, and for people to choose them.

2. Keep it real

If you ask a group of millennials about their plans after college or University, the chances are few will say: “I want to work for a builders’ merchant or a trade association or a household goods manufacturer.” Yet Seventh Generation, a household goods company in the States, is a top employer of millennials. They make some fairly unexciting products such as fabric softener, washing-up liquid and toilet paper, but their products are imbued with the company’s authentic higher Purpose: “to inspire a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations.”

A true Purpose isn’t just a punchy-sounding sentence or catchy strapline. It’s the single organisational thought that drives your entire organisation forward.

3. Attract the right talent

You can’t expect everyone to share your organisation’s Purpose. You need to hire people who get it and want to share it. Those who don’t ought to look elsewhere. This ensures your entire workforce is working to the same vision.

The non-for-profit investment fund, Acumen, designed a recruitment process that lets it identify potential recruits who share their Purpose. Acumen don’t just ask candidates to submit a CV and covering letter, they also ask for replies to short-essay questions relating to the position. For example, “How would you describe your interest in ‘impact investing’ (what Acumen does) versus regular private equity or venture capital investing?” Anyone who shows a good answer to this stands a good chance of becoming employed.

The clear value of a clear Purpose

Given the success of these organisations, and many others, it’s clear that Purpose isn’t marketing fluff. Over a 10-year period, purposeful, value-driven companies have been shown to outperform their competitors in stock price by a factor of up to 12. Without internal Purpose, leaders have a hard time motivating teams and setting the organisation on the right track to success. And without external Purpose, customers are less likely to connect with the brand.

However, once equipped with a Purpose an organisation can create significant value that is greater than the sum of its parts. But they have to get it right.

CMDi is the UK’s leading strategic agency specialising in built environment brands. We work at board level, using a proven methodology, to sharpen and transform an organisation’s positioning, marketing, and communications.

We ensure brands are built from the purpose up, not just the ground up. We can help unlock and define yours, enabling your organisation to stand for something that matters and move into a new era of value-based growth.

Contact me for a personal presentation to show how our end-to-end solution Purpose Constructor works. Email dlucas@cmdi.co.uk or call 01483 546900.

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Dianne Lucas
Managing Director