clarity through growth
I’ve recently been led to question a decision of an organisation that I hold dear and that is a key focus of my business world. At first glance, this decision seems incongruent with their principals and could potentially call into question their motives. But, with deeper examination and consideration of both the organisation’s values and their mission, I can see how this decision brings them closer to the big picture that they’re trying to achieve in the world.
When you’re a purpose-led organisation, one of the biggest challenges is to maintain a focus on your positive impact at the same time as creating a sustainable revenue stream so that you can keep doing what you love and grow your organisation for future success.
If you’re the kind of person who has a focus on doing good in the world, generating income and profit can almost be a distraction. But every business owner understands that it is vital to supporting the core of why you’re in business in the first place.
As organisations grow, especially if it’s a rapid growth, the reason for being can sometimes be lost in the mayhem, leaving staff, customers and supporters scratching their heads about choices that the business has made.
As you gain visibility and popularity with people, you can become more noticeable to customers, funders and potential collaboration partners who may not fully align with your values, but who can see the benefits that your values offer in the open marketplace. This is becoming much more common as organisations and media begin to focus on social topics such as climate change and worker welfare.
So, what do you do if an opportunity comes your way from someone or an organisation who, at least on the surface, seems misaligned, either fully or in part, with your mission?
Once you have researched and completed due diligence on any potential partners or financial supporters, assessed whether they may be traditionally misaligned but are forging a new path, or established that, despite perception, they are fully aligned with who you are and that which you want to achieve, your next move should be transparency and communication.
This is true for all organisations, not just purpose-led, but when you have an added element of having specific social impact values at the core of your band, any perceived departure from those values could be damaging of the trust that you have established with your customers, suppliers, community and all other stakeholders.
Creating clear communications that anticipate any questions that your stakeholders are likely to have about the decision will save you a lot of time and effort, at the same time as providing your supporters with the reassurance they need to feel that you are maintaining the high ethics and standards that attracted them to you in the first place.
By creating complete transparency around any big transactions, collaborations, partnerships or funding support, you are honouring the values of integrity that are generally inherent with purpose-led organisations. And, you now maintain the confidence of those already in your tribe.
Managing growth and popularity is a significant challenge for any organisation, but for purpose-Ied businesses, keeping the values top of mind in the face of needing to increase revenue is a challenge. And, even when you make choices that are actually driven by your values, they can sometimes be perceived to be a departure from your base line.
By being honest and open and willing to answer to the decision, you have much more chance of bringing your followers along to the next phase of the journey.
If you’re a Sydney-based purpose-led organisation, and you’d like some tips on how to grow a sustainable and profitable organisation without losing sight of you values, join B local Sydney for their March panel event, Growing with integrity – How purpose-led organisations can balance growth and maintenance of values.