September 2018

Cover Feature

From our Editor
September 2018September 2018

 Believing in more than mumbo jumbo

You’d be forgiven for thinking that when a person, or corporation, starts waxing lyrical about having a higher purpose they’re desperate for good PR, lying or lost. By and large, I usually do. Maybe it’s because I’m a cynical journalist, or maybe it’s because purpose is often referred to in hard-to-actually-pin-down terms - described in an abstract manner that pertains to, well, not a lot really. ‘Value set’, ‘driving force’ and ‘integrity’ are some of the phrases that offend me the most. If you scratch the surface of these expressions, there’s just not a lot behind them.

These grandstanding nothings often seek to posit whatever they’re attached to as part of something bigger and grander, inarguable and timeless, and, often, more altruistically minded too. Yet company pronouncements on corporate purpose, or corporate webpages denoting purpose, all too regularly end-up being a run through of airy fairy claptrap. This hasn’t stopped innumerable companies advertising themselves as ‘purposeful organisations’ though. It’s an all-pervasive business vogue.

As with any popular business idea, there’s also a lot of writing around the subject – from the mindful and well-researched to the worst kind of mumbo jumbo. For Liz Ellis, Cluster HRD UK & Ireland, if purpose is to be anything more than mumbo jumbo, something that both staff and customers can buy into, it has to beget action. As she explains on page 10, for purpose to be any good staff have to be involved in shaping it, they have to have the chance to see the actual impact of their ‘purposeful’ labour and it must be consistent across the entire company. Crucially, companies must also own up when financial imperatives and purpose don’t quite match up. Otherwise the ‘purpose’ which supposedly defines your firm won’t stand-up in the face of the employee doubt, let alone journalistic cynicism.

 

Sophie ParrottSignature Sophie
Daniel Cave - Head of Content

 

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