A clear statement of purpose is a foundation for effective strategic planning. It also is a focus for setting corporate objectives.
There are many terms for organizational purpose. The list includes such things as mission statements, vision statements, statements of strategic intent, and values statements. The confusion of terms does help in the selecting and executing the corporate strategy of any organization.
In my view, the Intended Beneficiaries of the organization are the focus of the purpose of the organization.
In many places, the law may require any corporation or association to register a ‘statement of corporate purpose’ with the relevant authorities. This can be part of the process of legal incorporation. However, it is not always clear what this entails.
Fortunately we have available a method of framing a clear purpose. This results from the work of John Argenti, and his purpose sequence.
The corporate purpose is the raison d’être of the whole organization. This ultimate aim trumps all others. It is set by or for the people for whose benefit the organization exists.
Using the Argenti approach, stating a clear simple purpose follows this logical path.
Firstly, whom does your organization primarily exist to benefit? Is it a company working for its shareholders? Is it a community services organization working for some other ‘stakeholder’ group?
Secondly, what is the nature of the benefit you aim to provide for them?
This gives you the two most vital ingredients for a statement of corporate purpose.
Intended Beneficiaries + Intended Benefit = Corporate Purpose
Any organization’s purpose statement then takes the following form.
This provides a corporate purpose that is devoid of distracting stuff about being excellent, world class, leader of anything, and so on!
So let us be very clear. Mission or vision statements may be a useful way to inform and inspire various interest groups of the organization. They can give them an idea of what the organization is striving to do. This will only be effective if you write mission statements at the conclusion of a strategic planning exercise; one guided by a clear purpose statement.
Statement of purpose-> Strategic decisions-> Mission statements.
Of course the purpose statement, while fundamental, should be pursued within the framework of sound ethics, and not on an ‘anything goes’ basis.
This accountability requires a code of corporate conduct. Other names include corporate social responsibility, or statement of values. A Values Statement is a little different from a formal purpose or mission or vision statement. How an organization behaves is largely independent of its business activity, or mission aims. There is no harm done, if ‘values’ are stated before the strategic planning process is performed. Just make sure that particular strategies are not disguised as values.
Return from Statement of Purpose to Corporate Objectives.
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Check out these resources on other viewpoints about the importance of purpose for your organization, project, or program.
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