Every viable business needs a joint purpose defined by its stakeholders. However, the purpose of organisations is under pressure.  Large societal topics, such as climate change, are influencing stakeholder groups and their sense of purpose. This can have tremendous impact on your organisation. Does your organisation still align with the purpose of your stakeholders? Or is it time to reconsider your purpose?

How to define your purpose?

There is often no clear definition of what the purpose of an organisation means. We, as BearingPoint, see purpose as the reason why a company exists. It is something that all stakeholders believe in and therefore they are intrinsically motivated to contribute to that purpose. Purpose-related questions often entail questions like: “Are we still doing what is right?”, “What does 'good' look like these days?”, “What do our stakeholders want?” or “What do our stakeholders expect from us?”. We see that an organisation’s purpose is strongly determined by the changing needs of its stakeholders. ​ However, the interest and opinions of stakeholders often change over time. It is therefore essential for organisations to regularly check if their purpose still aligns with its stakeholders’ needs, interests, and opinions.

The value of purpose

A successful business is always underpinned by a viable business model. When developing business models, organisations must note that stakeholder support is essential for a business model to become viable. A clear purpose can help organisations to develop business models that are in line with stakeholder needs, as a clear purpose allows organisations to focus on the right organisational drivers and capabilities. By defining a clear purpose, an organisation can assess their current business model and set direction for the future. ​

Purpose under pressure 

In today’s world, purposes are under pressure. Larger societal topics such as climate change, wellbeing, equality, diversity, and ageing are influencing various stakeholder groups, resulting in a shift in the purpose of stakeholders. This shift may result in the previously defined organisation purpose no longer being a joint purpose.

Take for instance Amazon, which is under pressure by having a profit-oriented purpose. Amazon is often accused of poor working conditions and their monopolistic behaviour. Amazon has a highly viable business at this moment, but the criticism may seriously affect its viability in the long run. Hashtags like #MakeAmazonPay and #BoycottAmazon are probably there for a reason. What would happen if Amazon redefined its purpose together with its criticasters? This might result in a joint purpose further optimising and maximising value for all stakeholders and thus a broader spectrum of society. 

The example of Amazon shows that organisations must constantly adjust their purpose to remain competitive. In other words, to succeed and grow in an ever-changing business world depends on an organisation’s ability to adapt. However, most organisations find it hard to capture their purpose, as societal topics are continuously influencing stakeholder groups and their sense of purpose. On top of that, from our experience, we see that organisations may have captured their purpose successfully, but often fail to determine which capabilities are then needed to incorporate that purpose into their organisation.

The BearingPoint Fit for Purpose Methodology

We, as BearingPoint, can help organisations to capture their purpose and prepare them for the organisational change they want to realize. Based on the projects we have done, our client experiences and the research we have conducted, we have developed our Fit for Purpose Methodology. The Fit for Purpose Methodology is an approach that helps organisations capturing their purpose and determining which steps are necessary to embed the purpose in their organisation. By capturing the purpose of an organisation, we systematically evaluate an organisations' purpose and align this (when required) to the wishes and needs of the most important stakeholders of an organisation: the customer, the partners in the value chain, the employees, societal stakeholders, financial stakeholders, and governing parties. Furthermore, our methodology helps organisations to think about where they are now, where they want to be in the future and what the requirements are to get there.​ Ultimately, our approach leads to concrete improvement initiatives that set direction for the optimal organisational structure and design. ​

The Benefits

To begin with, we ensure that our clients gain a deeper understanding of the expectations and values of their stakeholders​. This is crucial, as the interests and opinions of stakeholders regularly change over time. Hence, by using this methodology, our clients are provided with the tools to align their organisational model to their stakeholder needs​.

Furthermore, we help our clients by generating a clear picture of the organisational quality drivers and organisational capabilities. Not only does this help organisations to see where they stand out, it also shows which quality drivers and capabilities may still need to be developed or improved.

Finally, our methodology provides a multi-perspective measure to determine what “good” looks like​. From our experience, we see that organisations are often very ambitious in where they want to go as an organisation. However, this may not always be the most desirable or efficient direction. With our methodology, we also identify what the most desirable and efficient direction is, and where you might not want to go as an organisation.

How it works

The BearingPoint Fit for Purpose Methodology is a 4-step approach that provides understanding and ready-to-use tools to align the organisational design with the purpose.  The steps can be customised to the challenge your organisation is facing and can be executed separately, although doing them together creates the best results for the organisation.

1. Capture Purpose
In the first step, we help our clients by analysing the stakeholders needs and expectations. In this step, we capture external values through a method called ‘Voice of the Customer’. By usage of interviews, surveys and other research techniques we get grip of social trends, demographics, and customer experiences influencing our client’s business. Using all the input, we structure and translate this to create a clear, viable purpose.

2. Evaluate Performance and Quality Drivers
In the second step, we analyse the internal organisation. ​Using a lean six sigma method, we assess an organisation’s current performance and define the organisational quality drivers for success. This method includes i.a. interviews, surveys and performance monitoring.

3. Determine Fit by Capability Mapping
In the third step, we perform a gap-analysis to show the areas of improvement within an organisation. By providing a roadmap, quality drivers are mapped into (new) capabilities and improvements initiatives are proposed.

4. Build the optimal organisational design  
In the fourth step, we design and size the required organisational design that is needed to realise the organisation’s ambition and to give meaning to its purpose. You can read more about our organisational design approach in this article.

Want to know more?

We have supported different companies with capturing their purpose and preparing them for the required and/or desired change. Our Fit for Purpose methodology is part of our Organisation Design approach. If you would like to read more about this approach you could have a look at our article on organisational design. Do you want to know more about our methodology, how we support companies in capturing their purpose, identifying the core capabilities, evaluating their performance and quality drivers, and determining their fit by capability mapping?  Please contact us or request a trial.

Would you like more information?

If you want to get more information about this subject please get in touch with our experts who would be pleased to hear from you.