Strategic Planning: The Business Case for a Strong Why
Too often, strategic planning focuses exclusively on “the numbers.” Although that is absolutely essential, a recent Deloitte LLP study provides strong evidence that the key to an organization’s ability to perform consistently over time is rooted in something much more esoteric: understanding the organization’s deeper reason for being.
This idea is not new. In his 2011 bestselling book, “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek provides example after example of how companies that connect to a deep sense of purpose execute their strategic plan more effectively and perform better in the marketplace than those that do not. The Deloitte study (which may be viewed here) provides further evidence that Sinek was not just a Pollyanna.
The Deloitte study was designed to “explore the concept of workplace culture, defined by set of timeless core values and beliefs, as a business driver.” Deloitte hired ORC International, which surveyed 1,053 adults in the United States who are employed at businesses with at least 100 employees. The survey revealed that organizations with a strong sense of purpose:
- Are far more confident in their growth prospects (82% of respondents who work for organizations with a strong sense of purpose say they are confident that their organization will grow this year, compared to 48% of those who do not have a strong sense of purpose).
- Instill greater confidence in their stakeholders
- Are more likely to create a “best place to work” culture that drives innovation, embraces diversity and helps employees reach their full potential
- Are more likely to invest in initiatives that can lead to long-term growth
These are significant findings that bolster Sinek’s contention that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” From the results of the Deloitte survey, creating a powerful “Why” (a purpose-driven culture) attracts more than customers: it also attracts individuals who are willing to offer their best to the enterprise as well as investors who will capitalize new opportunities that are focused on changing things for the better. The study notes that “focusing on purpose rather than profits builds business confidence and drives investment. This is a critical finding — and underscores the significant impact a ‘culture of purpose’ can play in fostering a thriving community.”
Of course, there is no question that an effective strategic plan must focus on critical numbers as well. Organizations need to understand the key economic drivers, emerging trends, and other factors that will impact performance. But the Deloitte survey underscores a fundamental truth: business success is driven by and through people. Moreover, most people do not rally around nor give their best efforts for the sole purpose of “hitting the numbers” – however well those numbers may be understood by the rational brain. Connected to a deeper reason for doing what they do – something that comes from the emotional brain – people will move mountains. They will work long hours, find creative solutions, put up with that insufferable customer or co-worker, help you through tough times and generally give more of themselves.
The Deloitte report offers quantitative evidence that building your strategic plan from a strong connection to a deeper purpose isn’t so “soft” after all. In fact, it’s the key to making the numbers work.
To learn more about how STAR Group can help you build a sustainable, purpose-driven organization, please complete the form on the right side of this page or call us at (505) 263-7067. We’d love to work with you.