Organizational purpose is really a question of identity: who are you and why do you exist? It’s the very depth of why you do what you do. It provides meaning, the reason you exist, for each and every person connected from the CEO to the newest employee.
By clearly identifying the purpose of an organization, it creates a focus that should drive every important decision: strategic, human resources, even physical location. Purpose is the foundation upon which every building block is laid. If it doesn’t align with the core purpose, it shouldn’t be done.
Clearly, purpose is distinctly different from vision, however they are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Vision is about where we are going and how we might get there. Vision can and should change and develop. Purpose is the identifying bedrock upon which others measure the reason for being.
At Apricot, we go even farther to talk about individual purpose as your vocation; building on the idea that we have an in-built sense of calling. In fact, the wordvocation comes from the Latin word ‘vocare’ which means “to call”. When you align your personal sense of purpose with an organization’s identity, you posture yourself for a long-term success story.
There are some key questions to being the process of checking your organization’s health as it relates to purpose.
- Does your organization have a clearly defined purpose?
- Do people know it, and can they talk about it with clear understanding?
- Does it regularly impact the way you operate?
When organizations face crisis or persistent challenges, we usually look back to the identified purpose. Inevitably, somewhere in the journey, they have strayed away from their “reason for being” and need to course-correct to regain their sense of meaning. When purpose is lost (or never clearly defined to begin), organizations drift like a ship without an anchor, unsure of their fixed place, both in the marketplace and in the minds of their people.
Purposeful attention on identifying and articulating this central tenet of any organization will provide a meaningful opportunity for employees to understand and own why they come to work each day and drive decisions that propel groups toward success.