Does Your Business Strategy Have a Purpose?

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by: Idris Mootee

The following is one of my first few posts on this blog back in July
last year, I thought it is worth sharing with you again here. The
conversation started when a friend of mine called me and wanted to talk
about his new venture idea. I am happy for him. No question that it is
a big decision to give up your job and go after your dream. The
question came up was “why”, is it about money or is it about something

I asked him the question “Do you have purpose?” He was a little
surprised as he expected me to ask him about the strategy. I said to
him “purpose” is bigger than “strategy”. Way much bigger. At best,
strategy is just a number of smart ideas to take advantage of a market
opportunity or re-configuration of the value chain. But purpose is
different, it is a journey. Strategies are about means; they cannot be
an end in themselves. An end is a reason. Many companies today are not
lacking strategies, they lack a reason–they lack “purpose.”

Purpose is crucial because of its scope and ubiquity. It is large,
much larger than any other elements in a business model or
organizational design. It is much more involving. It is a choice to
pursue your destiny–the ultimate destination for yourself and the
organization you and your partners founded… It draws equally upon
your emotional commitment and intellectual whole–it calls upon
everything you are, everything you’ve experienced and everything you
believe in. How many leaders out there today can talk intelligently
(and authentically) about “Purpose”? Purpose is he most powerful
mobilization and any successful CEOs must be able to talk about
it–although they may not actually use the word itself. Business is
about “Purpose” and Management is the art of bringing that “Purpose” to
everyone in the organization and even to their customers. There’s a lot
of be learned from the non-profits guys.

  • Here’s a good comment responding to my post earlier this week. I
    thought I should share that with you. It is from Norman Wolfe, CEO
    Quantum Leaders.    
  • “Idris, I couldn’t agree with
    you more that there is a terrible misunderstanding of the relationship
    between for profit and not-for-profit. Your friend at the airport said
    it right when he said all organizations are in business to serve a
    certain customer base. Success of an enterprise is defined by the
    simple equation Revenue less expenses = profit and profit re-invested
    provides growth. Every organization has a revenue stream that is driven
    by the acceptance of the product/service by the market (whatever the
    customer base might be). When we provide those products/service with
    the most optimized set of resources we are doing so with the least
    amount of expenses. This does two things for us (us being the whole
    society), it means we are maximizing our profits which allow us to grow
    and provide the market with more of our products/services. And two it
    means we are also utilizing the least amount of resources hence we are
    being appropriate stewards of our society’s resources. It matters not
    whether an organization is a for profit or a not for profit. The
    revenue for not for profits may comes from sponsoring organizations
    rather than the end user but it is still revenue. Think of it as
    selling the product to the sponsor who is purchasing it on behalf of
    the end user and we drop ship it directly to the end user. The model is
    the same. One thing I would say that for-profits can learn from the tax
    exempt world, is the power of purpose, meaning and passion.”

  • Thanks Norman for sharing.

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