Organisational purpose has been in the spotlight in recent years. An organisation’s purpose serves as the foundation and justification for its existence. It can help inspire and align employees, giving them a deeper connection to the organisation’s mission.
According to Clarissa Haller, organisations should develop and co-create this with their people, rather than prescribing or enforcing it. The goal of co-creation is to eliminate silos and enable collaboration across organisational, disciplinary, and geographic boundaries. By doing this, employees take personal responsibility and contribute to the common goal.
An example of a company which co-created its purpose statement is the accountancy firm ECOVIS. Their statement reads “to inspire better business by leading with humanity, fostering trust and empowering change.”
Development of ECOVIS’s statement
Kathy Innes, Head of Marketing at ECOVIS, shared the process she undertook to co-create their new purpose statement and values for her organisation (in a LinkedIn article and roundtable). Above all, she reflected upon how might ECOVIS find their why?
Kathy’s process included the following steps:
- Include all the stakeholders – clients, suppliers, alumni, founders, partners, trainees etc.
- Ask the right questions – What are we good at? What does the world need? What are we passionate about?
- Collect data – they used targeting questions on stakeholder groups in interview format or online surveys.
- Analyse the data – data coding, identifying overarching themes. They used these categories and subcategories to generate a purpose statement.
- Test and iterate – they shared the statement, collected feedback and iterated and tweaked it. This follows part of the methodology of the design thinking process.
- Storytelling – the finalised statement was revealed. ECOVIS took into account the tone of voice, and the language and used this to rewrite websites, brochures and starter packs. Kathy comments that ECOVIS “Always were purpose-driven, just didn’t articulate it”.
In her article ‘Searching for Brand Purpose’, Kathy Innes articulates that: A company’s purpose statement cannot simply be inserted into websites and marketing collateral. Instead, everything you do in your strategy needs to be in alignment with it and driven by it, feeding into your vision, mission, values, and brand positioning.
To conclude, the co-creation of brand purpose across an organisation is critical for employees to take personal responsibility and contribute to the common goal. Kathy Innes provides us with a process for co-creation of a company purpose statement. The steps to follow are: include all stakeholders, ask the right questions, collect data, analyse the data, test and iterate and storytelling. Following a process like this one allows all employees and stakeholders to contribute to the organisation’s purpose, and co-create together.
Overall, Kathy Innes concludes that: “If you want people to live and breathe your purpose and values, they need to believe in them and feel they are genuine and not just part of a marketing exercise. A co-created purpose is more likely to be authentic and resonate with stakeholders.”