Why Purpose is critical to your organisations strategy


It is widely accepted that being really clear on your purpose is an essential element of organisational success.

Purpose serves to answer the ‘Why’ of an organisation. Why does the organisation exist and why would anyone engage with and buy or access our services or products that we provide?

With significant disruptions to normal ways of operating impacting all organisations over the past 12 months, many organisations have taken the opportunity to revisit their reason for being and what is the broader purpose that they serve for their community.

This Harvard Business Review Article identifies the two important strategic roles that purpose plays and the competitive advantages that ensuring purpose is at the centre of your strategy can provide.

1. It helps to redefine the playing field.

In a sporting and member organisation context, the traditional membership model is no longer sustainable for most member based organisations and they have been slow to adapt to changes in how the community wants to participate and engage with them. In an increasingly competitive market, successful organisations have been able to define a purpose that looks at connected interests and relationships among multiple stakeholders which create new opportunities beyond the members and participants they have traditionally served.

2. Reshapes the value proposition.

By having a purpose driven approach which facilitates opportunities in a new or larger ecosystem of stakeholders, organisations can create a more holistic value proposition and deliver benefits to members / participants over a longer lifespan. An example might be a sport broadening their purpose beyond their traditional competition focus and offering services and programs with a focus on fitness, health and wellbeing to meet a growing participation trend. The researchers identified three main ways organisations can make this shift; by responding to trends, building on trust, and focusing on pain points.

Being clear on purpose should be a priority for the boards of all sporting associations and community groups. By thinking strategically, understanding trends impacting on your sector and what new needs, opportunities and challenges lie ahead, boards can guide their organisations to evolve and improve their sustainability by better meeting the needs of their communities into the future.

Photo credit Evan Dennis

Purpose Driven Performance is a governance and strategy consultancy specialising in the  sport and not-for-profit sector. 

⏳ Governance and board reviews

💡 Strategy development and planning

👥 Board induction, education and training

📊 Performance scorecard to monitor progress against your strategic objectives

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