david linn

Why Your Company Needs a Purpose Department

April 2, 2021

The modern business leader most likely sees the value in Purpose. Purpose is like other business essentials like financial management and human resources, it’s not enough to just talk about it, you need to focus on it consistently. Most business functions have dedicated operational departments to ensure they run effectively. To make sure their company’s Purpose is fully infused throughout the organization, many companies are turning to the creation of a  Purpose Department.

We sat down with Dave Linn, Advantages’ Chief Purpose Officer,  to dive into the importance of a Purpose Department.

Q: What is a Purpose Department?

A: A Purpose Department is, quite simply, a part of your org chart where accountability for the Purpose orientation of your company– ensuring that its purpose and values are fostered and lived– sits. That can mean different things to different organizations. Larger organizations, like PwC, have literally created an entire department led by an individual or team with the sole function of ensuring that the business remains focused on purpose. Smaller companies will more likely task someone who is already in a leadership role with this responsibility. The common denominator is to have someone who is accountable for making Purpose more than something we just say. It’s something we:

  • Articulate
  • Live
  • Train and hire for
  • Measure and hold people accountable for

Q: Why did Advantages decide to launch a Purpose Department?

A: Advantages has always been Purpose oriented. But as the business was ramping up, Fran, our CEO wanted to ensure that no matter how busy we get, we never lose sight of Purpose. My role as Advantages’ CPO is two-fold. I have a responsibility to ensure that the client work we are doing is Purposeful and to ensure that our culture and team members are Purposeful.

Q:  How do you ensure that client work is Purposeful?

A: That’s actually a really good question. I would say there are two ways:

  1. We have a very purposeful onboarding process for new clients. We really prioritize  taking the time to get to know each client’s values and purpose, and we focus on the fact that Purpose is the place where the client’s passion and skill meets the market’s need. Once we’ve mapped that, we share it with the entire team so they can use their skills to bring that purpose to life.
  2. At Advantages, Purpose is not solely a department, it’s an overall company mindset. Every team member is expected to be Purpose-driven. That’s really where the culture side of my role comes into play. We have time and money budgeted to educate, train and measure our internal Purpose. When we are doing that well, it flows through the team to the client work.

Q: What are the first steps that a company can take to start their own Purpose Department?

A: The first step is to make sure that you are internally purpose-oriented. Take some time to develop a clear, written purpose statement, mission,vision and values. Ensure that the leadership team understands this purposeful foundation and begins modeling it. Finally, while Purpose is everyone’s obligation, decide who on the leadership team will ultimately be responsible for managing the Purpose orientation of the company and building the plans and processes that infuse Purpose throughout the organization.

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