Six steps to give you clarity of purpose

By John O’Brien

The best minds in business today want to work on meaningful work with like-minded people on a purpose they feel proud of and where their skills are best equipped. In identifying where this might be for yourself, it is important to first understand how to identify your own sense of purpose.

Clarity of business purpose acts as a powerful performance catalyst. Such a sense of purpose is proven not just to enhance team morale and performance but also to be a powerful initiator of innovation and service quality. Businesses with clear purpose are far more engaged by their stakeholders, who become more active in how they interface with the business because there is something to focus back onto, it clarifies decision making and business management generally. So how do you find this clarity of purpose?

These six steps will help you:

  • Understand purpose is not the mission or vision of the business: Purpose is why your business exists; Mission is what you are going to do to achieve your purpose. Vision is the view of the world you envisage helping create by being successful in your purpose. By example a health company might say; “Our purpose is to help people live healthy lives. We have a vision of our business being a trusted company within a healthy society and our mission of how to achieve this is to continue to invest in new health research and solutions’.
  • Identify your current market and focus: This is to focus on where you see the business impacting on the world through its market. How does it affect people through its products or services? The above company would identify that it is in the business of supplying cost-effective pharmaceuticals.
  • Ask yourself what change the business could create in the world: Evaluate what positive impact on people or the planet you could see your products or services having. This will help you recognise what you hope to achieve through your business and the work you do every day. The above company could say that it hopes to see a world with reduced incidences of poor health and disease.
  • Create your world reference point: This is the point that talks to both you and your customers. It will help position exactly what you are trying to do in the world and help shape the language required to do so effectively. Do these words reflect something people can feel about your business? The company will consider how it best presents itself to its customers and other key stakeholders, for example as a caring business.
  • Define the values of the business: These will be behind the scenes but could well be reflected in your purpose statement if appropriate. Whatever values are within the business will need to be in the DNA of the statement.  Many businesses do not put enough consideration into the value questions, creating difficulties in engaging with their audiences. Taking the above desire to be referenced in a certain way, regardless of what aspect of the business, for example, HR practices or supplier relationships, the business will create and foster a caring approach to all it does.
  • Create a clear message: Look at those close to the business and create a clarity in the message which allows anyone to explain in a simple sentence why the business exists. This is where the above thinking can be applied creatively, both in terms of communication and all aspects of business management, policies, practices, visual identity, language and brand development.

We have an inherent human ability as individuals and collectively as organisations when engaged with a clear purpose to then have much greater clarity of thought, be able to make wise decisions and respond meaningfully to circumstances around them. The identification of purpose as a unifying all-encompassing belief within a business greatly enhances every measure of whether a business is effective. Most importantly, the resulting reduction in stress and concern, with deep instilled confidence in the role one is playing, leads to greatly enhanced employee satisfaction and results. Such a focus is empowering business and we individuals and society at large.


The Power of Purpose by John O’Brien and Andrew Cave is out now in paperback and ebook, published by Pearson and priced at £14.99.