Actions are an important litmus test of how serious an organisation is about its purpose. These actions can often be as much about what the organisations does not to do as what it does.
When an organisation is genuinely committed to its purpose and the associate values the decision making at all levels will will be influenced by the purpose. The most powerful decisions are made by leaders at the strategic level because these decisions set the long-term direction of the organisation. In addition, these decisions send a clear message to everyone, both internally and externally, about how seriously the purpose and values are being taken.
It is often what you decide not to do that demonstrates and organisations commitment to its purpose most strongly. This is especially true if taking a decision not to do something has a negative effect on the organisation’s bottom line. The financial and other potential negative impacts on the business are likely to be short-term in nature and the long-term advantages are likely to outweigh some pain the short-term.
While these decisions may seem extreme and perhaps illogical to the uneducated observer, they send a very clear message that the organisation is committed to its purpose and values.
The types of things that an organisation may decide not to do would be to stop working with certain customers and/or suppliers whose purpose and values do not fit with yours. It is important to note that we are note saying that organisations should only work with customers and suppliers who share the same purpose. We are, however, saying that an organisation that is serious about their purpose and values should not work with people and organisations who act in ways that conflict with their purpose and values.
Similarly, organisations should apply the same logic to the products they supply and the services they deliver. For example, a financial services company whose purpose is “to help people live their dreams through creating long-term financial security, working with honesty and integrity” might abolish all incentives to recommend any particular product and, instead, reward people who provide the best advice to their clients. This may hurt the organisation in the short-term as they may not receive the best financial rewards from the product suppliers. It will, however, result in more loyal clients and an increase in the number of clients their referrals and and an improved reputation.
Hopefully you will now see that taking decisions not to do something, based on your purpose and values, will not only reinforce your commitment to your purpose and values but will benefit your organisation in the long-term.