What is your organisation's purpose? Do you know? Do you believe it in and feel you can contribute to it?

If the answer is yes, the chances are you are engaged with your work, and feel personally and professionally proud of what you are doing. And pride has clear knock-on effects on your personal wellbeing, and consequently the success of your organisation.

At our recent thefuturestory event, our speakers discussed how a job you value combines your organisation's purpose with your life's purpose. When you get up in the morning, you know what you're doing, and why you're doing it, and you feel good about it.

Our round table discussions drew out insights from delegates from The Body Shop, Scope and Diageo, who indicated that they knew what their organisation's purpose was (pretty much), and felt like they were contributing to it. Their organisations do this through consistent storytelling from people who live their brand values in both everyday work and CSR activities, and who put the purpose into practice; these stories are communicated regularly through internal and external media.

The discussions also drew the view from some delegates that an organisation's purpose can be perceived as a sugared pill, and disjointed from reality. We mused on why organisations shy away from the reality of admitting, "we're in this to make money and keep us all in employment" and feel that they need to profess to be, instead, "saving the world".

Delegates with experience in controversial industries - oil, alcoholic drinks - noted another difficulty: that of countering the potential harm these products create and crafting a purpose that was clear in minimising the impact.

In summary, the key take-aways from the day on how to establish and engender a purpose for your organisation included:

  • Tell stories and recognise great behaviours
  • Describe your purpose in simple words that leave some room for individual interpretation
  • Review your purpose. It can change, as your organisation changes.
  • Speak to colleagues of all levels about this: not just the senior team.
  • Deal with the controversial elements of your product or service
  • Be honest

If you have enjoyed this blog post summarising the Purpose table discussion at thefuturestory event, you will also like the following blogs written for the other elements of PRIDE. Check them out: Reputation, Integrity, Direction and Energy.