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Identifying Moral Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies

Purpose - The Starting Point of Great Companies, Nikos MourkogiannisPurpose, according to, is “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” How often does each of us stop to ponder why we exist?  How often do we wonder what we are supposed to accomplish in this lifetime? This kind of existential reflection and perspective can enrich the life of any person by refocusing their attention, efforts, and resources.  The same holds true for any organization. It’s important that executives understand their responsibility for clearly identifying the purpose of their organizations. Without clarity of purpose, organizations generally cannot create the sustainable competitive advantage necessary to endure.

In his book entitled Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies, Nikos Mourkogiannis outlines the importance of a clear purpose based on standards of morality. A company’s moral purpose does not transcend dollars, widgets, or spreadsheets; rather, it provides an internally consistent compass for the decisions that impact those factors. Further, the moral purpose, when recognized and integrated into the decision making and value drivers of the organization, provides a sense of identity that can engage the hearts and minds of its employees and draw like-minded talent to it.  Here are a couple of examples:

  1. Apple, who clearly exhibits a moral purpose of excellence, draws people who want to set the bar in their craft.
  2. Sony and 3M, with a moral purpose of discovery, draw people who seek to invent the new.

To learn more about four sets of moral ideas that typically underpin companies’ purposes including excellence, discovery, heroism and altruism, click here.

Although people can be content and strive to do well at any job, it is proven that if your personal purpose aligns with the moral purpose of your company, you will be motivated to do even better. This begs the questions: Do you know your own purpose? How do you know the purpose of the company for which you work? Mourkogiannis has crafted a purpose profiler to assist us with these questions as we continually evaluate the highest and best use of our individual talents, as well as the moral purpose driving the companies with whom we share those talents.