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Do business units and teams need their own purpose?


For some organizations, it is not enough to just have an organization-wide purpose. It may be necessary to have reinterpreted versions of purpose at other levels and areas of the organization. This can happen when an organization is large. In order to help teams connect to the purpose, the organization can have teams and business units in the organization to articulate their own version of the purpose. The key is that these sub-purpose still ladder up to the company purpose, but they are more concrete and more relevant to specific teams of the organization.


Consumer goods companies like P&G and Unilever are one example of this. These companies have one purpose that umbrellas the entire company, but each individual product brands have their own purpose that are more specific to who the product brand caters to and what the brand does.


For indirect business departments (間接部門), the parts of the organization that support the core business activities, by having their own articulation of the company purpose helps them better to connect their work the company-wide purpose.


For example, at Prudential Financial, a global financial company, their purpose is making lives better by solving financial challenges in a changing world. The internal audit team has their own purpose that helps them tie their work to the company-wide purpose. Their internal audit team states their purpose as, "we inform our leadership teams in order to give them confidence in making decisions as they look to execute against our purpose." As Robert Falzon, member of board of directors of Prudential, explains, “although the internal audit team is not on the front line selling products to individuals and providing financial security, their work is about empowering employees who are doing that."


For companies trying to activate purpose, it is important to consider:

  • how relevant the purpose is to each area in their organization

  • and if those teams can benefit from an articulation of their own purpose so they are better connected with the broader company purpose.


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