Business purpose

Too many organisations or divisions operate without a clear view of their business purpose. When there is a view, it is sad to observe that different divisions and individuals have different rather than consistent views.

Often, much of the cause of the muddled, inconsistent view comes from the lack of a clear, singular goal. However, even when there is a clear, singular goal, the accumulation of partly implemented strategies still clouds the business purpose.

Further tactical thinking by single divisions within an organisation create cottage industries which serve little purpose in serving the organisation’s customer base directly or indirectly through internal customers.

When the business purpose is unclear, the snowball effect is significant in size and far reaching.

Without a clear business purpose individuals manage their time poorly. How are people supposed to manage the balance between important and trivial tasks if the purpose to which they should use their time is not clear?

Without a clear business purpose, how can people know which projects deserve allocation of resources above others?

Without a clear business purpose, we obviously cannot measure whether our organisation is meeting its purpose. Neither can we measure whether our processes are efficient and effective.

Design for a business purpose

To design or redesign your organisation for its business purpose, answer the seven following powerful questions:

1. Who are our internal and external customers?
Answer carefully. Should they be our customers? Are we getting an appropriate return from our effort for external customers? Are we the most appropriate service provider for them?

2. What tasks do our customers require us to complete under the following headings:

  • Strategic tasks
  • Tactical tasks
  • Communication tasks
  • Planning tasks
  • Monitoring tasks.

3. For each task, what measures would indicate that the tasks are being completed to an agreed quality, on time and within an agreed cost?

4. For each task, what behaviour skills and knowledge do we require to complete the tasks at an appropriate value of the measures?

5. For each task, what physical and system resources do we require to complete each task efficiently and effectively?

6. What is the gap (over and under) between what we need for our customers and what we have?

7. What should we own, partner or procure to be at the optimum level of resources to deliver against our business purpose?

Completing this task initially at a high level will reveal where we are under and over servicing our customers. It will also reveal where we are under and over resourced. Additionally, tasks and investments which suit internal customers with little purpose for external customers are exposed.

The process is iterative. Each iteration includes a lower level of detail and a higher degree of accuracy of data. The iterations stop as early as enough information is available to make decisions at a level of risk that suits your business environment.

Completing a business purpose analysis every five or so years helps identify the detritus of familiarity. Completing a business purpose analysis when setting up a new venture in a new organisation or division helps build clarity and assists in prioritisation, making as big an impact as possible at a level of risk with which you are comfortable.