Do your Actions Demonstrate your Commitment to your Purpose?

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Actions are an important litmus test of how serious an organisation is about its purpose. These actions can often be as much about what it 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. The long-term advantages are, however, likely to outweigh some pain the short-term.

These decisions may seem extreme and perhaps illogical to the uneducated observer. However, 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 customers and 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 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.

Worked example.

A financial services company has a purpose “to help people live their dreams through creating long-term financial security, working with honesty and integrity“. They currently work on an incentive basis to recommend particular products. While this makes money, it is not aligned with their purpose. Abolishing all incentives and rewarding people who provide the best advice to their clients will align them with their purpose.  This decision will hurt the bottom-line in the short-term since they may not receive the best financial rewards from the product suppliers.  It will, however, have a positive impact in the long-term. Clients will receive better advice and better service. This will result in more loyal clients and an increase in the number of clients their referrals as well as an improved reputation. All of these will combine to improve their performance, as well as underlining their commitment to their purpose.

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.

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