+44 (0) 1425 463217

The Principles of Open Business: Principle 1 – Purpose

Part II in a series of blogposts describing the 10 Principles of Open Business

As you might expect from our definition of Open Business (“… one which uses its available resources to discover people who care about the same Purpose it does, brings those people together and joins with them to achieve that Purpose.”) Purpose is mission critical.

Most organisations are good at ‘What’ they do and ‘How’ they do it. But ask them Why? And things get trickier. How does yours score. See our Goal State/Worst Case below.

Most when asked about Purpose will point to Mission Statements.  Unfortunately in the majority of cases a Mission Statement begs a further question: Why?

Many are written along the lines of “To be No1 in our chosen markets and sectors returning maximum value to shareholders”.


That Why is important. It is what brings people together, motivates them, inspires them to support your cause. In a connected world in which the organisation’s role is to act as a platform to help others achieve a collective shared Purpose, it is essential. It is how you succeed.

It can’t just be any old ‘thing’. It has to be something that matters. Something about the world you want to put right. Something that matters to you and others. Something to believe in.

Who will give you their time to help you shape your products, services or business if they don’t believe in the same things you do? There are plenty of other brands out there they can be giving their attention, knowledge, skills, time and money to.

As Mark Earls puts it in his book Herd: “Find Your Purpose Idea and Live it”. It should be what gets you out of bed in the morning, it should be what inspires staff and partners to join you, it should be what attracts people to support you on your journey because it is their journey, too.

Get it right, truly believe in it, and express that belief through everything you do and you’ll find, as Hugh MacLeod draws it (as featured): “The market for something to believe in is infinite.”

The 10 Principles of Open Business

1. Purpose:

Goal State (Scores 5/5): You have a clear ‘Why’ of the organisation – why it exists (what is it about the world you are trying to put right/fix etc). Everyone who knows of you knows of your purpose.
100% of your actions are aligned with and express that purpose.

Worst Case:  (Scores 1/5) The number one reason your business exists is to make money. Mission statements simply enshrine the requirement to deliver shareholder value.

Jim Collins and Jerry Porras write in Built to Last that organisations driven by purpose outperform the general market 15:1 and comparison companies 6:1.

Eg Disney (To use our imaginations to bring happiness to millions) Disney has out-performed Warner by 7:1.

eg Google ( To organise the world’s information and make it universally useful.)
Google is the fastest growing company of all time.


Enhanced by Zemanta
  • http://www.postlinearity.com gregorylent

    this one, “purpose”, is for the mind, for setting up intention and belief, for creating coherence in the collective consciousness, for guiding focus for those who need it, and helps the unconvinced to take at least one step towards the larger understanding that will inevitably come as these ten principles unfold.

    if you already know “open”, the need for purpose has been left behind. if you don’t know “open”, “purpose” acts as a knock upon the door, one foot upon the threshold. the beginning.