The purpose movement has begun. Are you on board?

There is a movement underway. Leading organizations have begun embracing an idea that is redefining how to achieve prosperity. It is an idea that is rooted in the belief that success today is driven by serving a larger purpose.

This is a shift from the old school practices that separated the profit-focused mechanisms of an organization from its social responsibility efforts. The old way of thinking saw these as two separate and largely unrelated parts of the company. Their connection was loose at best.

The new movement is demonstrating that these efforts are integral to each other. Moreover, we are seeing proof that optimizing growth depends on optimizing purpose.

It is becoming the imperative. In other words, you do better by doing good.

Where is the proof behind purpose?

I have been writing about the potential of purpose for a few years now. It offers an incredible power to help transform organizations. I have seen it first hand in the work we have done with companies across a wide spectrum.

Our case studies have helped substantiate the value of discovering or refining a purpose. The validation that we build continues to fuel our efforts. That has been very rewarding. But what has been profoundly satisfying is the discovery that purpose is emerging as a movement from all corners of the business world. And, renowned organizations have begun to build research behind the practice. Those organizations include Harvard and the University of Oxford Saïd Business School.

Here is a collection of some of the work helping to advance the purpose movement:

  • The Center for Higher Ambition Leadership
  • The Center for Higher Ambition Leadership describes itself as “...a community of individuals and organizations who believe that creating social and financial value can go hand-in-hand. Higher Ambition leaders build organizations that succeed in the marketplace by earning the respect, trust, and commitment of their people, customers, communities, and investors."
  • Harvard Business Review
  • Harvard Business Review continues to generate thought leadership about purpose in business today. Harvard Business Review Analytic Service published The Business Case for Purpose - a study that looks at why and how companies are embracing purpose to inform organizational transformation.
  • EY Beacon Institute
  • The EY Beacon Institute is the creation of the global professional services firm Ernst & Young. This bit from their website describes their endeavor, "The most effective executive teams are harnessing purpose to innovate and transform all elements of their core business. We created Beacon as a catalytic force for purpose-led transformation across the working world."
  • The University of Oxford Saïd Business School
  • The well-regarded institution has been releasing a series of reports covering how organizations are using purpose to address theirs challenges around transformation and growth.

The purpose imperative

Organizations of all types are looking for ways to build a sustainable path to success in a world where technology and connectivity drive rapid change.

It’s no wonder that the idea of purpose is becoming the keystone of business strategy for forward-thinking organizations.

Pioneers such as Unilever are providing the real-world evidence, reporting that its purpose-driven brands like Dove are growing at twice the speed of other brands in its portfolio. And they are not alone. In the shifting sands of the current environment, organizations of all types are starting to see how purpose can provide the solid footing that allows them to confidently push forward. A footing built from the belief that meaning and money go hand-in-hand. That by doing good, they will do better.

Dan Salva is a co-founder of Will & Grail, with more than three decades of experience in brand marketing and developing and implementing go-to-market strategies. He can be reached at

PurposeDan Salva