Why purpose now?
Written by Claire Van Der Zant

The UK media has widely postulated that the process of exiting the EU will bring about financial impact for most by way of fluctuating inflation. Add to this a variety of local and global factors presenting conflicting outcomes for inflation, it brings with it an unpleasant air of an uncertainty for UK business.

We have proven in the past, however, that we are a hardy nation; recently recovering from a double-dip recession and bouncing back more rapidly to demonstrate bigger growth that the other G7 nations.

I guess at times of severe shortage and crisis, we get more determined to advance creativity and invention as ways to navigate the storm. In the face of adversity, humanity can be a shining beacon of determination and hope.

In his article ‘Corporate Religion’, Tirthankar Bhattacharjee distilled the concept of the global marketplace down to human transactions: ‘Where every individual makes their living, every company generates its revenue, and every country creates wealth.’ Fundamentally, it is people at the very heart of all market transactions, driving financial health and growth of business and the market.

Whether we feel this in our daily working lives or not, it is humans that driver corporate growth and the financial development of countries. You could say, weathering the storm and returning the country to positive financial growth is in our hands.

In a recent report by Havas, a staggering piece of information about financial performance and people was uncovered. Those businesses that are focused on people (employees, partners, customers) – those with a defined purpose and a reason to believe beyond the P&L ­– are ‘outperforming the stock market by 206%’.

The common denominator for success and progress here being people.

So, whether you’re a startup or an established business, we believe there is a reason – now more than ever – to (re)focus on why you do what you do, and how you should matter in the lives of your people: your employees, your customers, your stakeholders. To find your purpose.

Simon Sinek shared a video last summer that talked about People Before Money. In the hangover of business thinking from the 80s and 90s, many company leaders still order their business priorities based on these outdated musings.

Old Business Thinking

And yet, ironically, it is exactly this outdated business thinking that contributed to the failed economic forecasts from our financial institutions when they missed the 2008 recession and wrongly predicted the vote to remain in the 2016 referendum. They became too far removed from people and forgot to factor in the very ‘irrational’ nature that is to be human when predicting the outcomes.

Focusing on numbers rather than people is a strategy that is failing, whatever the business issue or situation.

So, if it is up to us to address the financial challenges of a fluctuating inflation in the anticipation of a hard Brexit, what’s the approach if it isn’t to focus on the numbers first?

Well, those businesses advancing in today’s climate are not the oligopoly. They are the disrupters, innovators and purposeful companies that put people and meaning before profit, but not in spite of profit. Far from it. In fact, research says meaningful brands increase customer spend by 46%. Here’s the old way of thinking now flipped on its head.

Modern Business Thinking

Now more than ever we should be taking responsibility for championing people, innovating markets, making better products and services, taking an active role in society, and ensuring the planet is fit for the next generation. To have purpose.

If the market truly is the place where the development of a country is measured, we all need to take responsibility to get more creative and more inventive to ensure the UK weathers the storm. In the words of Lord Kitchener, your country needs you.

Time for a re-think? Time to be more human? #jointhehumanrace

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