How purposeful growth can catapult a business to glory

How purposeful growth can catapult a business to glory
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How purposeful growth can catapult a business to glory 

Highlights

Coupling growth with purpose is a most potent possibility, provided resources are utilized to create reasonable business efforts which result in augmenting profit and building trust

The talk of linking growth with purpose has been around for a long time now. Yet, it has been something which needs to be reiterated every now and then, not just because purpose is essential to human endeavour but also because it is often seen as more of a rhetorical posture rather than a pragmatic possibility. To examine this perception, one may ask some crucial questions. Is it, in fact, plausible to prioritize purpose when we function in a growth-driven, growth-centric scheme of things? Is it possible to survive and thrive while being committed to causes beyond the economic reward of financial profit and expansion? The short answer is, yes, and the longer footnote to it is all about moving beyond mere rhetoric and semantics to integrate committedness to cause and growth-oriented progress.

From earlier being talked about as an additional and ethical responsibility, studies show how placing purpose as a key driver of growth has yielded rewarding outcomes. Harvard Business Review notes how high-growth companies in their study had moved purpose from the periphery of their strategy to its core - where, with committed leadership and financial investment, they had used it to generate sustained profitable growth, stay relevant in a rapidly changing world, and deepen ties with their stakeholders.

A case study from Sweden in the same publication illustrates the aforementioned point. As Thomas W Malnight and others report, in line with its purpose of "contributing to a safer society," Sweden's Securitas AB, a security company, traditionally offered physical guarding services. However, in the early 2010s its erstwhile CEO, Alf Göransson, saw that globalization, urbanization, and the increasingly networked business landscape were all changing the nature of risk - for people, operations, and business continuity, which was simultaneous with labour becoming more expensive, and new technologies becoming cheaper. Göransson decided that Securitas could no longer "simply sell man-hours" and moved to explore new ways of using electronics to provide security, followed by a reshaping of the company's value proposition from reactive to predictive security. Eventually, the firm strengthened its electronic security business by acquiring a number of companies, investing heavily in modernizing and integrating back-office systems, and training its guards in remote surveillance, digital reporting, and efficient response which allowed it to offer bundled, customized security solutions - encompassing physical guarding, electronic security, and risk management - that provided a much-enhanced level of protection at an optimized cost. By expanding its value proposition in this way, Securitas has been able to strengthen client relationships and significantly increase its margins for the solutions business, with a remarkable increase in sales.

Critically examining the aforementioned story abundantly demonstrates how commitment to core purpose is more than just talk. It can act as a locus for innovation, for responding to a changing world, for expanding and growing and for serving customers and the world at large, better. In the absence of a practical approach, Securitas AB's mission to contribute to a safer society might have succumbed to new developments or stagnated. However, through creating a responsive growth culture driven by its core purpose, the company turned the tide in its favour, translating purpose into advancement and consolidating its mission and bolstering its credibility.

In fact, the scenarios of today offer an unprecedented opportunity to build a purpose-driven growth regime and the key reason behind it is technology. For any successful business, growth and relevance both comes from serving its clientele and data offers a huge avenue for a dynamic association which can pragmatically meet the end of purpose delivering success. In this regard, Mondelēz International's chief marketing officer for Europe, Debora Koyama noted in an interview with McKinsey,

"We have never had so many ways to have a conversation with people. So that's number one. Two, with data we are able also to have a much more personalized conversation with groups of people. We talk a lot about personalization at scale. The third one is the data we have to support and make marketing much more precise through the consumer decision journey."

The fact that there is availability of feedback and possibility of conversation is central to the vigilance of a business. Not only can the mission be better communicated and responded to, but with actionable information, there are innumerable possibilities of building it into profitable endeavour, in tune with the needs and aspirations of customers.

Thus, coupling growth with purpose is a most potent possibility, provided resources are utilized to create reasonable business efforts which result in augmenting profit and building trust. Purpose is central to a venture, instrumental for having a direction and indispensable for creating better value for people and the world and it does not have to be prioritised at the expense of compromising financial and professional strides. With a realistic, judicious and creative approach, growth and purpose can indeed be complementary and catapult a business to glory.

(The author is Chief Impact Officer at Recykal Foundation)

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