This is a great article and a great agenda for the AICD to be driving amongst their network of Directors. Whilst governance across the financial performance and risk profile of a business is incredibly important, a Board’s ability to have focus on the future direction of a business requires a clear articulation and understanding of the ‘Why’ or Purpose of the business.
The article is right in noting the confusion in recent years around Mission, Vision and Purpose, and in my experience, I have seen each of these used interchangeably by many organisations, agencies and marketers alike, which in some ways has diminished the importance of having a clear statement of purpose. To quote the article it’s actually pretty simple – ‘a company’s purpose is the “why” behind its actions while its mission is what it is trying to achieve. In practice, a clear and fully integrated purpose can provide a context for decision-making’.
In my experience (working with clients across a variety of industry verticals) defining a compelling purpose can be the key to transcending market cycles; attracting and retaining talent and inspiring loyalty beyond reason amongst customers. But unless the defined Purpose guides all decision-making from the very top of the organisation, it often starts out as inspiring call to arms but ends up a plan on a page that is only referenced by marketing.
I am in the process of doing the Company Director’s course with the AICD, so I am encouraged to read Catherine Livingstone’s comments that the approach she takes at a Board level has been to evolve what has previously been a dry statement of objects into a clear statement of purpose. I am looking forward to seeing how I can merge my newly acquired insight into the role of a Company Director and my passion for defining meaningful and compelling Purpose strategies, to help Boards and Executive teams really harness the potential of being Purpose-driven.