I recently spoke on the topic of “Making the Most of Your Mission: Using an Impact Mission as a Corporate Asset” at Chicago’s COO Forum, which provides a collaborative, peer learning forum for Chief Operating Officers and other Second-in-Command Executives. Around an intimate board room table, participants expressed their interests in learning more about how to elevate their efforts around mission as well as specific strategies for gaining an edge for their efforts.
Our discussion was rooted on the premise that organizations – both for-profit and non-for-profit – have the chance to increase value for society in addition to their organizations’ bottom-line. And in reality, these organizations seem to financially benefit from their efforts to drive impact, supporting the business case for why mission matters.
The participants’ high level of engagement for a topic that has historically been put to the backburner underscores how important the conversation is to executives today. In fact, CEOs of public companies are becoming more outspoken on how companies have a duty to serve a greater purpose. Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, recently stated in his annual letter to CEOs:
“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society…Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders. It will succumb to short-term pressures to distribute earnings, and, in the process, sacrifice investments in employee development, innovation, and capital expenditures that are necessary for long-term growth.”
I shared with the group our own take on why this matters, and discussed several case studies of Next Street clients who grappled with how to utilize their mission as a competitive advantage, and subsequently capitalized on the opportunity. I also provided specific ways they could lead the charge in creating a competitive advantage for their organizations by focusing on their mission. The below illustration provides a summary of our discussion so that you too can take your organization to the next level.