Is your Business Purpose letting you down?

by admin on September 7, 2010

What’s Your Business Purpose?

By Dr Ram Raghvan

While many corporations have a ‘vision mission’ and ‘values statement’, their sense of business purpose is what differentiates them from being good to great corporations.

Who are you letting down?

Henry Ford’s business purpose was to democratize the motor car by being effective, whilst Sony’s purpose was to create new affordable technology for every home.

Purpose is not driven by numbers because it is much larger than that.

Whilst values enforce behaviour and conformity, business purpose goes way beyond.

Business purpose, unlike corporate values, is dominated by a moral commitment to create something new, be helpful, be effective or excellent.

What the Business Purpose needs to do

A Mission Statement is about output and impact while Vision Statement is about a company’s future and is amoral.

Conventional wisdom leads us to believe that if we achieve the mission we can achieve the vision, which means a quasi-moral mission is justified by an amoral vision rather than the other way around.

This can result in mission statements starting to sound cynical.

It means that the business purpose is no longer a tool for maximising profits and but one that is pursued for its own sake without further justification.

Business purpose needs to unite teams and help organisations achieve bigger, better things.

Make it your Business Purpose to think differently

If you can apply this thinking to your own business, it is possible to see things in a better light.

You are then in the business of

  • alleviating pain effectively (NHS)
  • creating innovative solutions to transfer money (Banking),
  • creating excellent solutions to communicate better (Telecoms)
  • creating effective solutions to conserve natural resources (Oil, Water).

With this type of thinking, your business purpose will continue to forge effective communities and fuel commitment.

How to define/ redefine the business purpose of your company?

Your employees are bound to work cohesively when there is a sense of purpose to help them understand the meaning and value of the work they do.

Catering to their Intellectual, Emotional and Financial requirement enhances their level of engagement.

Southwest Airlines or John Lewis partnership have integrated this formula as part of their strategy and it appears seamless and unifying.

So how do you establish the purpose?

  1. Develop first draft of strategic options
  2. Draw out the implications
  3. Know thyself
  4. Understand company traditions
  5. Take the moral inventory of the Top team
  6. Take the moral inventory of others
  7. Identify a purpose
  8. Create metrics and models
  9. Test Strategy and purpose
  10. Design and launch a campaign to make the purpose work

Any activity that you do, whether it is communicating with your staff, communicating with the world, planning an activity, formulating a strategy has to be purpose driven.

Link people to a genuine business purpose and you enhance their engagement levels and increase the value they add.

And remember, it is easier to link people to a purpose to enhance their engagement levels and increase the value they add.

Dr Ram Raghvan is the Managing Director of Talengene – a strategic consultancy firm that helps companies to bridge the gap between a strategic conceptualisation and implementation.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Debs de Vries September 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm


This arrived at the perfect moment. I had just spent the afternoon revisiting my business goals and this article helped me to link my actions more closely with my vision. What I do and why I do it is the simplest way to monitor whether I am on course – or not. So -fewer tea making forays during the day then!


admin September 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I am sure that if they are ‘purposeful’ actions you will deserve plenty of cups of tea!


Damien September 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm

When i eventually got this about a year ago my business started to blossom.

I always felt I was in business to make money but that didn’t sit as comfortably as I liked (typical catholic upbringing), until I heard about the true business purpose.

My business purpose was then and always has been to make my clients successful through their Internet marketing. It was only when I actually realised this, that things started to turn around.

Altruism doesn’t necessarily mean giving everything away but when your purpose it more about “them” than it is “you” – magical things start to happen.

admin September 12, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Yes, I think you are right. And there is more pleasure in making money when you know that your business purpose addresses a very specific issues or need that your client wants you, and only you, to solve.


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