Denise Roberson: Mistakes Leaders and Boards Make When Thinking About Purpose

If you ask everyone on your team if they know why your company exists, what would they say? And no, “to make money” just won’t cut it these days. You might not think such existential ponderings have a place when you’re fighting fires, closing deals, and growing the business – but nothing could be more important to your organization’s long-term success. Today, we talk with Denise Roberson, who shares her work and research showing that organizations with clear, actionable purposes enjoy many tangible and intangible benefits – profit and longevity being among the most impressive.

Today, we talk about what a Chief Purpose Officer does, and we parse out the word salad of purpose, vision, and mission so you have a better understanding on how they all work together. She shares examples from market leaders Unilever and others who are measuring the value and impact of purpose in more accurate ways. We also talk about big mistakes Boards and leaders make when thinking about purpose and what you can do to get maximum benefit instead.

Key Takeaways:

  • While vision, mission, and purpose all have different meanings, what is most important is that, within your organization, you are all working with the same vocabulary and all understand what you are talking about and what is most important. 
  • Purpose is important for every aspect of business: employees, investors, consumers, customers, and management. 
  • Empathy and purpose are important to every company, whether 100 or 100,000 employees. It makes a difference, it gives a business edge, and it is good for the world. 

“Purpose has now become a really powerful operating system that goes across the top of the organization. It’s a great uniter: It’s got this juicy business case that helps attract top talent, reduce turnover, and protects against risks.” —  Denise Roberson 

About Denise Roberson, Chief Purpose Officer, Omnicom TBWA

In her role as the first-ever Chief Purpose Officer in the Omnicom and TBWA network, Denise is leading some of the biggest brands in the world to actuate their business case for purpose, through focusing on a scalable, differentiated, and business goals oriented approach.  In this capacity, Denise is helping companies connect their brands to value and purpose, and using this unified strategy to create 21st-century value and growth across the entire stakeholder wheel.  TBWA was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company and has worked with Fortune 500 and world-class brands around the globe such as Apple, Gatorade, Google, McDonalds, Intuit, Principal Financial Group, and the Grammy’s.

Denise is also serving as a marketing professor for Pepperdine University’s Presidents & Key Executives MBA program and has served in a board role for a number of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Resources Mentioned: 

Five Mistakes Boards Make When Thinking About Purpose, by Afdhel Aziz, Forbes CMO Council

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