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Business Porpoise?

Posted by in blog, Homepage April 14, 2014

Ever since defining a sense of ‘Business Purpose’ became the buzz idea at Davos this year we at Futerra have been inundated with clients, briefed from on high in their organisations, hungry to rediscover the essence of what makes their organisation’s really ‘tick’.

We’re obviously enjoying this. As a strongly purpose-led business for the last thirteen years – ‘to make sustainable development so desirable it becomes normal’ – we are perhaps uniquely and intimately familiar with all the many benefits that accompany a good corporate purpose at the highest context level. From finding, attracting and retaining the very best people and clients who connect with and align to similar values, through to a strong sense of authenticity, honesty and transparency as to why we’re all here and are doing what we do. Purpose drives our business from tip to toe, with heart and soul.

This matters. If a client comes to you for logistical and creative support in helping them define their own purpose – it really does help if you have one of your own that goes beyond vested self-interest! Whilst the tailor’s children are notoriously clothing free, if you’re going to advise others on exploring their purpose, then doing so from a well-staked out territory of your own is very powerful. Otherwise it’s the blind leading the blind.

It does of course beg the question ‘how can an organisation function without a clear idea of it’s higher purpose?’ beyond simple profit or financial performance. Perhaps that is why we have found ourselves in our current capitalist impasse, where a fundamentalist freedom of capital and burgeoning inequality threaten to bring the whole system into a self-defeating downward spiral of doom? This is not a radical perspective either, economics commentators like Will Hutton have been saying as much for some time.

As such rekindling a sense of purpose in your business is fundamental to addressing the transformational challenges of our time, from climate change to health inequalities, biodiversity loss to fossil fuel dependency. What is the point of going to work in denial of such global megatrends? Every business needs a sense of sharp responsibility to such issues, what role they can play in helping to tackle them, and how they might need to change themselves to do this better, faster and in greater depth. Otherwise why are you here?

In this sense ‘purpose’ is not about word-smith-ing some bland corporate statement. It’s about working deeply within an organisation, engaging and consulting staff creatively and effectively, logically and emotionally through both thinking and feeling to define real meaning and direction. This is in order to ultimately understand the role their organisation plays in making the world a better place and the big one-hundred-year-long outcome they’re shooting for. Anything else is just window-dressing.

We’ve been involved in most, and instrumental in some of the biggest purpose-led business ideas of the last few years. From Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, through Kingfisher’s Net Positive, to Mondelez’s Coffee Made Happy, we’ve married cutting edge creativity with sustainability savvy to help our clients find a sense of purpose that really sizzles. So if you’re wrestling with your own corporate purpose and need sensitive and seasoned guides for the journey, who know how to navigate difficult terrain, political potholes and directional disagreements, then you know who to call…

; )

This blog may also be used for training porpoises. And here’s a little song about ‘Purpose’ courtesy of Avenue Q.

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