Developing an Authentic Purpose

The process of developing a purpose requires a more thoughtful approach than many executives expect; it can’t be completed in a one-day brainstorming session with a handful of senior leaders. An authentic purpose is excavated, not created.


An Authentic purpose is built on a deep understanding of the organization’s distinct strengths. It distills somewhat abstract ideas into a core message that aids executives in plotting strategy and helps lower-level employees make the right decisions with an understanding of how their individual contributions help the organization reach its objectives. Most important, purpose expands how the firm sees its role in the world.

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How do you establish a good purpose? Start by taking a deep dive into your organization’s unique strengths, beliefs, and convictions, and then coalesce them into principles that reflect the firm at its best. This process ensures that the firm’s purpose aligns not only with the values and beliefs of its leadership team and employees but also with the values and beliefs of the investors it represents, such as pensioners in a pension fund.

Next, the firm needs to explore the needs of the world that it can uniquely address. Notably, these go beyond market and functional needs to include human and societal exigencies. At the intersection of those two elements—the firm’s identity and the needs of the world—lies the organization’s unique purpose.

Articulating a purpose is only the beginning of the journey. The next step is to activate that purpose throughout the organization—communicating it both internally and externally, and using it to reshape the firm’s culture, strategy, and branding. Ultimately, it should be something that affects the day-to-day work of every employee, from portfolio managers to support staff.

 

This is an excerpt from our whitepaper: Institutional Investors Discover the Power of Purpose.

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