Is your Purpose fit for purpose?
Purpose comes dressed in many guises. Here at Tovera, we have always considered it central to the corporate brand. We observe that for some it seems to be a new word for what was previously known as vision and mission. For a few, it’s purely a statement of intent for use in PR or communications that doesn’t seem to be much more than a thin veneer over business as usual. Recently, we’ve heard from governance experts that it’s very much a board level concern. Whatever the start point (or the audience), what we can agree on is that Purpose is considered to be of strategic importance to companies..
A paper shared at the World Economic Forum on Sustainable Futures talked of how the great COVID-19 reset can help firms build a sustainable future. It went on to describe the opportunities for companies to achieve a symbiosis between people, planet and profit – also referred to as the “triple bottom line” – in contrast to the single bottom line of profit alone.
If the triple bottom line is a guiding principle of 21st century business, then the executives leading businesses are going to be making tough strategic decisions involving trade-offs between what’s best for people, for planet and for profit. An agreed, meaningful and clear purpose is imperative to driving those decisions. And that purpose needs to be, well, fit for purpose.
This raises important questions such as who in a company is defining that all-important purpose, how it should be lived and communicated, what is best practice, what is the best approach to arrive at it and ensure it is authentic.,?
We know from our work here at Tovera that any articulation of purpose must be developed with the top team through a process that ensures the CEO, the Chair andsenior leaders of all functions have both input to the process and a stake in the delivery. And it is our conviction that those of us advising companies on purpose must be independent, unbiased and most importantly, not tied to an outcome that happens to suit our bottom line. That means that we don’t have a vested interest in providing a solution that requires PR, advertising, communications, design etc. but are free to work independently and objectively alongside our clients to arrive at a fit-for-purpose purpose..