An organization’s purpose is a “definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make” (according to the Purpose Institute). It goes by other names, such as a “North Star” or “commander’s intent,” depending on the context. But its role is the same: to orient everyone within an organization and keep everyone moving in the same direction.
It’s a soft characteristic that leads to hard results. When it’s driven through an organization, and not just a plaque on the wall, purpose has a meaningful impact on organizational performance. In one study, EY found that companies that failed to drive purpose through their organizations were less likely to be growing. And the companies most effective at implementing purpose were more likely to be launching new products or expanding their markets.
How exactly does purpose make such a big difference? To dig a little deeper, we held an event on March 21, 2017, called A Conscious Conversation – about Purpose, with our partners at ImpactHub Boston. Larry Yu, Managing Director of Kite Global Advisors moderated a panel consisting of Ed Manzi, CEO of Fidelity Bank, Jackie Herskovitz Russell, President of Teak Media + Communication, Ellen Fitzgerald, Co-Founder of Mother Juice. The panelists came from different industries and are at different stages of their organization’s growth. Yet their perspectives shared a common thread about the importance of purpose – and how it influences their decision-making, corporate cultures and employees’ behaviors.
Our event’s purpose, however, was to spur conversations about purpose. So we broke our 48 attendees into five groups to have their own conversations about organizational purpose. The conversations were rich; each group had its own spin, from the challenges of implementing purpose, to the benefits of purpose for organizations and what individuals get from an organizational purpose.
All this speaks to the pent-up demand for conversations about how more businesses can become conscious business. One participant reported online about the “tremendous conversation and spirit in the room.” We hope to keep tapping that spirit in future conscious conversations.
Contributed by this program's chair, Larry Yu