What are the Barriers to becoming a Purpose-Driven Organisation?

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While there are many benefits for an organisation to be Purpose-Driven, only a small percentage achieve it.  This article explores why this may be the case.

There are two main barriers to an organisation becoming Purpose-Driven. Firstly they have lost their purpose and need to discover it. Secondly they find it difficult to embed their purpose in the organisation, despite the fact that it has so many benefits?

The first issue can be dealt with using our Purpose Driven Organisation programme.  This will enable the organisation do discover its purpose and will form the foundations on which to becoming Purpose-Driven.

Research has shown the following are the most common barriers to becoming a truly purpose-driven organisation:

  • Focus on short-term performance hinders their ability to focus on long-term value creation.  Becoming purpose-driven can have a negative impact on the organisation’s performance in the short term.  This makes management reluctant to implement this strategy, even though the long-term gains can be significant.
  • Lack of meaningful metrics to capture and track long-term value creation. Most measurement systems are too focused on financial metrices.  To become purpose-driven the focus needs to move away from short-term to metrices that link to the long-term performance of the organisation.
  • Systems/infrastructure are not aligned with the purpose. Being purpose-driven required a more open culture where people are empowered to make their own decisions. An over reliance on systems or a rigid infrastructure will stifle people’s creativity and passion.
  • Performance targets and incentives are not aligned with the purpose. It is very important to understand what purpose-driven behaviours you expect to see from people within the organisation. Once you are clear about what you expect from people you can adjust your performance targets and associated incentives accordingly.
  • Poor communication. Communication is a vital element in the journey towards becoming a purpose-driven organisation.  The leaders in the organisation’s play a key role in communicating their commitment to its purpose. They should do this not only with their words but also, critically by their actions. External communication is also important to ensure that stakeholders (customers, suppliers, etc.) understand the organisations purpose.
  • Insufficient buy-in across the organisation.  This is by far the most common reason that organisations fail in their efforts to become purpose-driven. There are many reasons that people in the organisation don’t buy-in to the purpose, most of which are listed above.
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