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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

'Culture of Purpose' Is Key To Success According To New Research From Deloitte 05-22

'Culture of Purpose' Is Key To Success According To New Research From Deloitte

Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen
Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen
Interview with Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen…
There is a link between organizations that instill a sense of purpose and their long-term success, says a new survey  just released by Deloitte. Yet, businesses are still not doing enough to create this sense of purpose and make a positive impact on all stakeholders.  In fact, according to the report, 91% of respondents who said their company has a strong sense of purpose also said their company has a history of strong financial performance.  However, 68% of employees and 66% of executives believe businesses do not do enough to create a sense of purpose and deliver meaningful impact.  So says Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen who has been out and about evangelizing for the power of purpose.   “Our research reveals the need for organizations to cultivate and foster a culture of purpose,” says Chairman Renjen.

Yet there is a larger and very personal mission that drives this innovative business leader.   The financial melt-down that began in the fall of 2008 and the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement that it inspired was a defining moment for Punit.  Through interviews with the media and then in speaking engagements that he did at various campuses around the world during those  times, the Deloitte Chairman was regularly challenged to justify business in general and even more specifically Deloitte’s reason for being beyond returning profits to its partners.  “I found it disconcerting that business has been cast in a not so positive light,” said PunitWhat’s the leader of the world’s largest audit, tax and consulting firm doing preaching about what seems like a squishy business attribute like “purpose”?  As Punit tells me, “exceptional firms have always been good at aligning their mission or purpose with their execution, and as a result have enjoyed category leadership in sales and profits,” (think Whole Foods, Tom’s Shoes or even Apple).  This seems particularly clear for companies where the founder is still very much involved in the business or where the founder’s ethos is culturally ingrained in the organization.  Companies that are singularly focused on exceeding customer expectations tend to fall into this category.  “So there is an empirical financial benefit to organizations that instill a purpose-driven culture,” says Punit.
According to Punit, businesses have a bigger issue than just the standard challenges of profit and loss.  Most suffer from a lack of a clear purpose in the minds of customers.  Punit began devoting himself and his firm to understanding the issue as a driver of financial outcomes (hence the research) and to committing to ensure his own firm’s mission and purpose was clearly understood by its customers and its nearly 60,000 employees in the U.S.  During these challenging times, Deloitte invested $300 million in training and education for its employees with the introduction of Deloitte University.  In the midst of the recession, high performing professionals received raises.  It was the kind of action exceptional companies do.  “It’s not just words on a piece of paper,” said Punit.  This hits home with Millennials who are particularly motivated by this concept of purpose and skeptical of business.  And talent attraction and retention is key to a knowledge business like Deloitte.
Building a purpose focused culture is also not just about supporting social responsibility activities.  “It first comes from treating customers well.  It’s not about transactions, but about building a relationship that exceeds expectation,” says Punit.  “My goal is to change the conversation about what makes companies succeed,” Punit continues. And certainly the mission is good for Deloitte and serves to position the firm as a thought leader in how businesses operate best in today’s complicated, global economy.  But perhaps more importantly, as Punit states frankly, “it just feels good.”

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