Integration of purpose refers to how well all stakeholders across an organisation understand what it is the company exists to do and how it does this. That is, the extent to which the specified purpose infiltrates everything the company does. Integration is the third sub-blade or component of Purpose and should be completed after Elevation and Specification. It is the final requirement needed to ensure the Purpose blade is effective and optimised. Once our elevated view of our main thing has been specified into tangible terms that people can understand, it needs to be integrated across the organisation. This is a core component of the Powered By Change business modelling tool.
All parts of the company need to be integrated with the specified purpose. This is vitally important for the success of a company because it is through integration of purpose that alignment can be achieved. This includes alignment of people with the company’s purpose, which leads to engagement. In past pieces, I’ve mentioned the significant impact that employee engagement has on profitability so I won’t repeat that salient point here. It also includes alignment of products and services provided by the company to its purpose. Finally, processes need to be defined in such a way that they can enable and support the company in executing its purpose. There is a ‘flow-on effect’ to all other blades within the Windmill Theory. Failure to integrate purpose throughout all supporting mechanisms will have a flow-on effect of suboptimal performance. This is due to the fact that purpose is a key driver of business success.
In terms of measurement of integration, this is essentially the proportion of the people at the company that truly understand, embody and align with the specified purpose. Ultimately, integration helps to clarify what good looks like. A great example of an integrated purpose is McLaren Technology. Everyone at the company from cleaners to engineers and designers to executives know that they are in the business of accelerating performance. Another example is Under Armour which is a global sports apparel organisation that has nailed the Purpose blade. The vision statement is” “Empower athletes everywhere”. The mission is: “Make all athletes better through passion, design, and relentless pursuit of innovation.” Under Armour has explicitly declared what it is for, what it aims to achieve and how it goes about making its vision a reality. In addition, the company has established its four pillars or greatness in addition to a “4 Wills” pledge that all employees take. Both of which clearly outline what good looks like which is communicated throughout the company. Everyone has clarity and knows the direction of the company.
In this way Under Armour has effectively integrated its main thing in practice. Clearly this approach has been effective for the company in terms of financial performance. Its profit per employee is approximately $300,000 and in the decade after floating on the stock market it achieved growth of over 2000%. This is what the impact of a Purpose blade looks like when it’s integrated.
Unfortunately, this is something that many companies overlook. Although given the importance of purpose to the bottom-line it is not clear why any company that wanted to achieve ongoing, perpetual success would not ensure purpose is integrated. Likewise, integration of a specified purpose could be seen to be something that maybe HR needs to do. However, that’s not really optimal. Integration of purpose requires more than an HR policy, or a tagline or a memo. It needs to become part of the company’s DNA. Once this is achieved you will have people that truly believe in what the company is doing which significantly enhances success.
Within the PBC solution, there are tools available to identify how well purpose is integrated and to solutions provided to help with integration to help you design your company for ongoing success.
- Integration is the extent to which the specified purpose infiltrates everything the company does.
- Integration of a specified purpose helps define what good looks like.
- As seen with the Under Armour example, having an integrated specified purpose that reflects the elevated purpose can seriously improve the financial performance of a company.
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