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Insights

Is Your Business Working on Purpose?

Friday, November 22, 2019
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When I misbehaved as a lad, my mother was the one who almost always reprimanded me. After lecturing me on the rights and wrongs, she’d ask, “Did you do that on purpose, son?” then hand out the punishment. My actions were almost always spontaneous episodes of teenage stupidity, not premeditated acts of dissent. While I was definitely a rebellious teenager, my mother’s inquisition always made me think about my actions, and to this day, “Are you doing that on purpose?” is a question I ask myself regularly about my effect on others.

Purpose and People Are the New Frontier

For most businesses, the most valuable asset they manage is their people, so employee engagement and satisfaction are strategic imperatives that every leadership team should understand. People who turn up to work each day and aren’t actively using their talents to pursue or connect to their purpose don’t operate at their full potential. People who find their reason for being, who uncover their purpose and connect with it passionately, become more engaged and significantly more effective at work and in life because of a clear sense of fulfillment. Helping your employees discover and define their purpose represents a significant opportunity to improve “people” engagement and, therefore, overall business performance.

Companies that find their purposes are not different when they define or rediscover their reason for being. Working closely with executive teams at large corporations to reposition and refresh their businesses’ brands, we encounter many who ask for our guidance to explore and define their purpose. This is not just vision and mission work, it is deep strategic work that can affect every facet of a business.

How Is Purpose Different From Vision?

There has been a lot written around purpose, the roles we play in the world, the reasons we exist, and the need for our lives to have meaning. Finding purpose is the central question we seek to answer at a key point in our lives. Like people trying to find their way, companies seeking to reinvigorate their business and find a relevant and compelling position must step back and answer the central question of why they exist. Oftentimes executive teams try to answer this question by laying out a vision statement around how they see the future.

A vision statement, for many, is aspirational; it’s a description of what the company wants to achieve and is not intended to be literal. Whereas, a purpose statement clearly articulates the reason a company exists in the world, the role it plays, offering a clear and accurate description of the core business.

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Companies With a Greater Purpose

It feels like just yesterday when purpose-driven companies like Newman’s Own and Patag onia were few and far between. Today, they are sprouting up in almost every business category, and challenging the current ways of doing business.

Chobani’s purpose is to “make universal wellness happen sooner . . . totally and deeply committed to playing an active role in transforming our food system for the betterment of our planet, our people, and our communities.” And for twelve years this purpose has been expressed and executed strategically across every facet of their business.

“The Chobani Way” is the brand’s commitment to the highest standards for lawful, honest, and ethical conduct in all business dealings. This commitment is reflected in everything that it does, from its purpose-driven business decisions, to philanthropic efforts, and the way that employees and partners are treated. Consistent with Chobani’s commitment to provide better food for more people, the brand follows the highest standards for lawful, honest, and ethical conduct in all business dealings, ensuring its products are produced and manufactured with ingredients and materials sourced from suppliers that are socially and ethically responsible.

Paving a Path on Purpose

The Chobani brand is also helping small companies challenge the food industry, improve broken systems, and make an impact through their Chobani Food Incubator. Hamdi Ulukaya launched the incubator in 2016 with the intention of helping companies take on broken food systems to carry out their goal of bringing better food to more people. In addition to investment, the incubator gives startups access to a network of experts to scale up operations and achieve significant growth.

Chobani’s reason for being (their purpose) is expressed in every functional area of their business, and the difference shows in every metric of business performance.

The Benefits and Effects of Leading on Purpose

The leaders we work with are seeking to understand how their brands play a more meaningful role in the world and how to improve their overall business performance. If you sit on the C-suite of any major corporation, don’t run past the question of purpose as a serious opportunity to affect your business and the people you serve.

When your company has a clear purpose, you plan with that connected purpose, mapping your strategy clearly to your reason for being as a business and the role you play in the world. When objectives have a purpose and are clearly communicated, everyone on the team is on the same page and understands what to do and why they are doing it. If you define your purpose, plan with it in mind, and measure your actions and performance against it, you increase engagement, inspire and fuel performance and do your most rewarding and satisfying work. If in doubt, always remember what my mum said: “Are you doing that on purpose?”

About the Author

As the CEO of Bulldog Drummond, Shawn is responsible for strategically directing each of Bulldog’s key engagements, ensuring there’s an “Uncommon Sense” methodology at the center of everything the company does. This approach maintains that the biggest opportunities can be realized, and the most complex challenges solved, by using a powerful combination of simplicity, common sense and determination. He brings twenty-plus years of innovation, design, brand and business-building experience to companies from Fortune 500s to purpose-driven startups.

Shawn helps leadership teams transform large, multinational companies and passionate entrepreneurs launch new companies, products and brands. He has worked with executive teams at companies including Adidas, Bolthouse Farms, CMT, Diageo, Eddie Bauer, Heineken, H&R Block, IDEO, MTV, Mattel, Nike, PIRCH, Starbucks, Samsung, Taco Bell, WD-40, Westfield, and World Vision, among many others.

Following a life-changing trip to Malawi in March of 2004, Shawn has become committed to finding creative and sustainable ways to make a measurable difference in the world by helping people and companies realize their full potential. He sits on the board of The Honest Kitchen, the advisory boards of FEED Projects and International Farming, is the co-founder of YouSchool and Y-Malawi? and a faculty member of The Honor Foundation. He writes feverishly for Fast Company, PSFK, and is a sought-after speaker. Shawn lives in San Diego with his wife and three children, is a dawn patrol surfer, wanna-be photographer and avid cultural voyeur.

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Great insights! But it’s no secret that millennials make a larger proportion of the workforce and need to be engaged differently compared to older generations. Raised in a digital, media-saturated world, millennials are digital natives and tech savvy. Engage the millennial workforce correctly with – http://www.peoplehum.com/#bl
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Great insights! But it’s no secret that millennials make a larger proportion of the workforce and need to be engaged differently compared to older generations. Raised in a digital, media-saturated world, millennials are digital natives and tech savvy. Engage the millennial workforce correctly with – http://www.peoplehum.com/#bl
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.