Purpose, On Purpose – Three Burning Questions for 2021
Attitudes towards the role that business can play in the well-being of society have been gradually shifting for some years. Mainstream acceptance of CSR at board level being the beginning, and increasing involvement of employees in regular fundraising, and volunteering perhaps the natural extension of this philanthropy.
The recent crisis has accelerated attitudes further. It has given us the ability, and sadly the experience, to view the fragile world we live in through a more compassionate lens. This latent awakening, along with the termination of the morning commute, perhaps the main positives of 2020 – not ignoring for a moment the incredible team effort of our key workers. It is true also that hard times lie ahead of us and frankly it is reasonable to predict that business will be expected to step up to the plate and do it's bit to help solve many of society’s issues. In the absence of available central government investment addressing issues like inequality in the workplace, diversity, social impact delivery or the essential shift to a more sustainable ecological future, is going to require broad business shoulders.
In 2021, the idea of embedding purpose into your organisation is as lively a debate as the whole discussion about conscious capitalism. What is certain is that leaders and management teams are being sandwiched between investors and employees, with a triple deck courtesy of customers. What they all expect is a successful business that delivers a positive outcome for society and the planet.
Courtesy of extensive research by organisations such as Deloitte and McKinsey we now know that the next generation of middle management will actively seek to work for companies which fulfil this brief, which conversely means if you want the pick of the best talent the issue of purpose should be high up the agenda of every conscious leader.
Defining your purpose need not be a one-off process that sets everything in stone. Most businesses are used to regular shifts in strategy and this is BAU. It is not necessarily the destination that is important, it is about getting the intent and the implementation spot on and fit for 'purpose'. The same is true of every charitable organisation or social enterprise. Arguably, 99.99% of the value is delivered while addressing an issue over the long term for the benefit of as many people as possible, not in fact by solving it in the end (although this remains the ultimate goal).
What is clear is that purpose is rapidly becoming a powerful business strategy. In 2020, London Business School’s own Professor of Economics, Alex Edmans, published ‘Grow the Pie’, his evidence based analysis that carefully embedded purpose-led organisations can perform better commercially in the long run than their peers. In fact many new generation economists across the world now believe that even Milton Friedman has been misunderstood, and that purpose over profit is in fact essential.
So perhaps accusations of ‘wokeness’ are really veiled compliments and that ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ is in actual fact a fine strategic move. A strategy of ‘Purpose, On Purpose’ (POP) or ‘Purpose Over Profit’ is a very deliberate and astute intention to deliver good for society that benefits all stakeholders – investors, shareholders, employees, customer and communities. We argue that whatever the motivation, a move in this direction is to be applauded providing the outcome is authentic and delivers real world benefit.
POP though is not arbitrary or even philanthropic in the way that CSR grew up. It requires authentic alignment with the goals and operations of the business, and a deft communications strategy that delivers powerful supportive messages to all stakeholders. This is what creates momentum and sets tactical social impact delivery apart from meaningful and measurable business strategy. In a nutshell, if you want to deliver real business benefit and social impact this strategy needs to be embedded.
A few moments ago I mentioned the term conscious leader. I perhaps could have coined this 21st Century Leader because it is set to become much the same thing. For organisations to change it is essential that leaders and teams change as well. Conscious business practice is perhaps one of the most exciting areas for professional development and is at the core of purpose-led change management.
At Good Karma we have assembled a team of highly experienced consultants who, when combined, can develop purpose-led strategies that make sound commercial sense. Critically, they can manage the organisational and attitudinal change necessary to implement these initiatives across your whole enterprise. Including the coaching and development of the core principles of conscious leadership, an area where we have a wealth of expertise and a plethora of tools and methodologies to embed these practices within an organisation.
Underpinning our delivery are our marketing and communications skill sets that ensure every stakeholder is engaged and on-board with your vision. Delivering a core business strategy requires a multi-disciplined team and this is where we can help. We live and breathe social value creation.
The purpose of our organisation, Good Karma Media, is to promote and help proliferate, social value creation and benefit through the application of conscious business practice. The more organisations we can help excel in this discipline the greater the overall social impact we can ourselves create. This purpose is aligned perfectly with our own positioning as a social enterprise that redirects most of our profits for social good. That we do this through our own consultancy services means that this purpose is about as embedded as it can possibly be.
The Three Burning Questions
1. How aligned is your purpose with your business objectives?
2. How will it deliver the biggest impact for all stakeholders?
3. How will it give you competitive and commercial advantage?
If you need help to define, activate or review your purpose, whether it be social or sustainability driven, then gives us a call or drop us a note.
Call now on 01737 448018
Good Karma Media Ltd is a Social Enterprise registered with Social Enterprise UK