Deploying Purpose in your company is an Inside Job!

I have spent the past 18 months learning a lot about the evolving need for “Purpose” in companies. “Purpose” can be defined several ways but I have always liked this one : as a primary strategy for profit and growth based on linking a company’s reason for being to improving lives and impacting society. Over the last number of years, we have seen a diverse group of companies - such as Unilever, Salesforce, Zappos, Starbucks, Virgin, among many, many others, move to become truly Purpose driven organizations.

Often, Purpose was/is “owned” by the marketing function of a company. It seemed to be the easiest way to communicate what your business stands for, and as a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors to your customers. Think about campaigns like Nike’s recent Colin Kaepernick commercial as a powerful example of this.

As we worked with clients on purpose driven strategy, we would often be asked by company leaders why their Purpose driven marketing was not fully resonating with their employees. Why more employees were not talking about this both internally and outside the company, and becoming proud ambassadors for where they work. It became clear to us that all too often, “Purpose” was not created by the staff, with their full input of ideas, creativity and energy, but rather something that was imposed from the upper echelons of the company (best intentions notwithstanding). It was never “owned” by the staff. There was in many cases a massive disconnect and “Purpose” was not doing what it can and should to unite employees around a core set of values and missions.

I recently announced that I will be working with Searchlight Partners to help companies address how to incorporate Purpose into their Talent strategy - recruiting, retention, development & corporate culture - to create the kind of work place that attracts the best people to want to work there. I am excited at the opportunity to help people find their Purpose, both at work and in life, and to watch organizations thrive and grow in this 21st century.

Mark Rubinstein