The Power of Purpose
I had the pleasure of spending a little time recently with John O’Brien MBE a former colleague at Business in the Community and he very kindly gave me a copy of his (and Andrew Cave’s) recently published book ‘The Power of Purpose’ which in a nutshell outlines the need for businesses that want to be both successful and responsible to operate with a ‘purpose’ rather than just looking to return shareholder value in the short term. The proposition is that companies that operate with a purpose will return greater shareholder value as their focus will be on customers, employees, partners which when all managed well drives the type of performance which delivers shareholder value.
In the wake of the banking crisis, the requirements of millennials coming into the jobs market and the diluting of trust in business, the authors, supported it should be added, by a host of business leaders, make the case for companies to recognise exactly what their ‘raison d’etre’ is and mould this into a company-wide ‘purpose’ which everyone can buy into and which will focus them on what it is important for them to deliver on a day to day basis.
Since the book has been published of course, we have had the Carillion debacle, which if anything, adds to the point. A company that had become highly diversified, to some extent following the money, working on small profit margins and ultimately failing spectacularly to deliver their vision of ‘making tomorrow a better place’. It would be an interesting exercise to research to what extent as a company they had lost sight of what their real purpose was, or if their employees had a clear vision of what Carillion stood for over the last decade.
These remain interesting times, the business landscape remains uncertain and companies are looking at different ways of navigating themselves through the choppy waters of consumer uncertainty, increased public scrutiny and brexit. I would suggest that as companies look for their moral compass to help them find the right path, taking the time to read the ‘Power of Purpose’ would be time well spent.