It is Purpose, Not Profit, that Drives a Company
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”
- John F. Kennedy
This sentence reminds me of an incident that happened with JFK at the Nasa headquarters in 1961. Apparently it was his first time at Nasa.
He was touring the facility when he found a janitor mopping the floor. Humble that the man was, JFK introduced himself to the janitor and asked him what he was doing. The janitor replied saying, “I am helping put a man on the moon!”
Now the janitor could have easily said that he was mopping the floor; but his answer proved that he understood the purpose behind the job that he did. He knew what role he needed to play in Nasa’s achievement of its vision.
A similar story is of Christopher Wren, a famous English architect. He visited the construction site of the St. Paul’s Cathedral at London that was designed by him. The men who were at work there did not recognize Christopher.
He asked one of them, what he was doing. The workman said that he was cutting a piece of stone.
When he asked the same question to another, the replay that he got was “I am earning my bread for the day.”
The same inquiry was addressed to a third man, who answered saying, “I am doing my bit in building a beautiful cathedral that Sir Christopher Wren has designed.”
Now, this man had a purpose. He saw the larger whole, which was building of the great cathedral, instead of focusing on cutting the stone or earning his wages.
Reaching your goal is only possible if you can visualize the larger whole.
Having a purpose will make you a part of something that is bigger than yourself.
It gives you something better to work towards.
It makes you feel valued and important.
It gives you true happiness.
We always have a purpose when we start a business. However, as we grow, we tend to forget why we started what we started. We give in to the pressure of growth. We start focusing on amassing the resources that support such growth – hiring new people, keeping systems in place, buying new equipment, increasing inventories and so on.
Never let this happen to you. Purpose is very important. It gives a reason to your customers and employees to be loyal to your brand. After all, achieving organizational success is all about winning the trust of your customers and employees.
Everyone has a role to play in helping your business achieve its vision. This includes your customers, your vendors, your business partners, your investors and your employees. You will have to give these people their due importance if you want to them to do their bit efficiently.
Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, stunned the world when he announced that he was doubling the daily wages of his workers to $5. This was way back in 1914 when no firm had yet understood the importance of purpose over profit.It was Henry Ford’s vision to see that each and every employee of his owned a Ford automobile.
To achieve his vision, he cut down the working hours from nine to eight and offered profit-sharing option to employees, provided they lived a ‘clean’ lifestyle.
Sharing profits with workers was something that was unheard of in those days. There were people who called Ford crazy; but his efforts did pay. Ford automaker jobs went on to be considered as the most coveted ones in the industry. The company made huge profits all through the 20th century.
If you ask me my purpose, I would say, “It is to help professionals in getting on to the right track of marketing so that they can achieve maximum returns on their investment.” It is clear. It helps me focus. It enables me to establish meaningful connections and build long-term relationships with those that matter.
Your brand is not about your logo; it goes much beyond that. Every interaction that you have with your customer at each and every touch point should emphasize your brand values. You have to incorporate your purpose into your products, your services, your customer experiences, your work culture and in the stories that you tell the world. Unfortunately not many brands understand this. They hardly work towards building on their purpose and creating meaningful interactions.
Purpose is not about what you sell; it is about what you stand for. It gives your business a cause that attracts not just customers but employees too. It gives you a “far-sight” that focuses on what is good for your business and your team. It is this far-sightedness that helps you envision a possible future for your company that resonates with the aspirations of people.
The concept of personal computers was very new in 1976. No one ever thought that there would be one day when computer would become asaccessible as telephones or televisions. But it was Steve Job’s vision that made this possible. If he hadn’t articulated the possible future of Apple, along with Woznaik, 35 years ago, Apple wouldn’t have been where it is today.
You can manage the people and resources of an organization without a purpose; but you cannot mobilize them. Purpose is not something that can be seen; but it is the key element that has the power to drive an organization.
When it comes to corporate goal, Unilever ranks high with its goal – ‘To make sustainable living commonplace.’It lives up its vision through projects like Foundry ideas (a global crowdsourcing platform that attempts to manage sustainability issues in hygiene, nutrition and sanitation).
Philips, the Electronics company, has pledged to improve the lives of three billion people by the end of 2025. It has already started measuring its progress by establishing KPIs. Seven ‘green’ healthcare products were introduced by Philips last year, in order to better patient outcomes and improve accessibility to care.
Starbucks continues to provide the finest coffee in the world by sticking to its uncompromising principles.
Almost every brand has a purpose statement, clearly mentioned on its website, brochure or other marketing material. But, does every brand truly live up to its purpose?
You need to have a compelling vision to deliver extraordinary results. A clear purpose will provide the necessary focus to the decisions and actions of people, creating in them a feeling of “tribe” that motivates and inspires them to be a part of your vision.
So have you developed a purpose statement for your company yet?
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