Examples of practitioner, business and academic literature on the topic of organisational ‘Purpose’ show why the topic seems confusing to many business executives. If the ‘Purpose’ is to define the organisation’s reason for being, then which stakeholder group are we referring to? Stock exchange investors identify a different ‘Purpose’ than will customers, and different again to employees. Let us consider the full range of possibilities of the coffee-mug example used elsewhere in the project. A manufacturer makes coffee mugs and markets them as such. It just so happens that the shape and size of the mug and thickness of the wall make it great for cutting scones and little cakes. It is even demonstrated, as an aside, during one of the popular TV cooking shows. Soon all the home-cooks are rushing out to buy one. With sales going up, the manufacturer decides to improve the coffee mug. Oops. Unless the manufacturer acknowledges that the purchaser decides the purpose, it will make a better coffee mug, and not a better scone-cutter. Sales will fall because ‘Purpose’ was unclear. BUT – it’s never as simple as that. Perhaps there are more sales available when the coffee drinkers discover the unique thermal properties that keep coffee hotter on the inside, while the outside remains cool to hold. So in this case, the organisation needs to educate the customer about the purpose of the mug. Perhaps it doesn’t matter who defines the ‘Purpose’ so long as both sides eventually understand and agree with it. Without alignment between organisation and customer, meaning agreement with the ‘Purpose’, there will be no business transaction.
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“Knowledge self-organises around organisational purpose. Without a North Star for knowledge, it's impossible to focus on what is needed” (Allee, 1997). 12 principles of knowledge management. Training & Development,...
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