We live in a time of rapidly rising expectations from both consumers and employees for companies to do more than just sell them products or give them a paycheck. The companies that are best equipped to meet the moment are purpose-driven organizations. However, how do you know if a business is truly purpose-driven? In this white paper, gain insights from the Jump Team on how to define and measure purpose-driven organizations.
If your business ceased to exist tomorrow, would it really be missed? Yes, it would cause some inconvenience for customers and suppliers. But would it be missed as an entity that really means something beyond making things, providing services, and earning money? If the answer is no—or you can’t be certain—your organization is lacking the one quality that is fundamental for a business to thrive over the long term: purpose.
We live in a time of rapidly rising expectations from both consumers and employees for companies to do more than just sell them products or give them a paycheck. Issues such as climate change, the disorienting pace of technological advances, and growing social fragmentation are driving this sea change in attitudes—and putting unprecedented pressure on businesses to take a stand rather than bury their head in the sand.
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As Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, put it: “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”
The rise in complexity, ambiguity, and expectations makes this an incredibly challenging time for companies. But it’s also a time of tremendous excitement and strategic opportunity for those who see the challenge clearly and are prepared to respond.
The objective of this white paper is to demonstrate that the companies best equipped to meet the moment are purpose-driven organizations. These are businesses that have done the work to find their “north star” and integrated it deeply into their strategy and operations—giving them and others a larger, lasting reason for the organization to exist beyond making money.
Purpose-driven is not a vague term applied to companies that talk about having a bigger mission or that support causes beyond their immediate shareholder interests. Rather it’s a highly specific set of standards that businesses need to meet if they are to fulfill the larger “why” of their existence and their contribution to a greater good. Companies that execute on these standards are proving that it’s possible to do good and do well.
In the following sections, we begin by spelling out why it’s so crucial today to be purpose-driven and show why most companies fail in that objective. Then, we define and illustrate the five essential factors that together make up a truly purpose-driven company: activated purpose, aligned culture, stakeholder centricity, next-level leadership, and future focus. Each quality is necessary, but not sufficient, to make a company purpose-driven; they must all be present and operate in concert with one another.
Purpose-driven companies aren’t built overnight. They are born out of a deliberate process of self-discovery and challenge that will at times be tough and uncomfortable for everyone involved. It contains risk—but in today’s world, the far bigger risk is ignoring purpose.
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