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Goal or Purpose?

What should an enterprise pursue  -  a goal or a purpose?

Business leaders often talk of creating shareholder value or a return on investment. And when pressed, many see no reason other than that for the existence of the enterprise.

However, the single-minded pursuit of such a goal will not lead to long term success for an enterprise. That is because it is the pursuit of the 'purpose' of the endeavour that delivers long term results.

The purpose of the enterprise is the underlying reason why its customers choose to transact with it. Provided the enterprise remains true to this “customer-centric” purpose, they in turn will remain loyal for the long term.

The purpose is very much about those outside the enterprise who provide on-going revenues through their custom. Whereas the goal is about the expectations and desires of a smaller group inside the enterprise who are involved in funding and ownership.

It stands to reason then that the purpose is about meeting the deeper needs of the customer which in turn fulfils the goal of providing a return for investors.

The key is to understand the basic nature of the transaction with the customer. From that understanding, define the purpose with clarity and in very simple terms – often no more than a few word. But above all, it must resonate with the customer and your people.

About the author

Jai Gill