purpose aspect

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Purpose is one of the four primary aspects of the business organization - purpose, function, process, and structure. See business organization aspects for an explanation of their derivation. The four aspects are the framework for the inquiry process that is performed to understand and design business organizations.

Purpose aspect introduction --
Purpose is the organization's reason for being; why a it exists in its environment. Purpose provides the system an identity and the context and meaning for the function, process, and structure. The purpose is defined by what's important to the business outside the business boundaries. See function aspect, process aspect, and structure aspect.

Purpose and the environment --
The system inquiry on the purpose aspect looks at the business organization's purpose from the view of its environment. The organization's reason for being may be determined by its leaders, but the environment renders judgment on their choice. A business can only survive with the 'blessing' of its environment. Either the business fills a need in its environment or the environment rejects the business and it ceases to exist. To capture this codependence, this aspect can be called the purpose-environment aspect.

Inquiring on purpose --
When inquiring upon the business organization from the purpose perspective, the following types of questions guide the inquiry --

  • What's important to the business that is outside the business organization? Market? Competitors? Stakeholders?
  • What does the organization want to be?
  • What ought the organization be?
  • What is the identity of the organization?
  • What is the business purpose in its environment?
  • What ideal is being sought?
  • How is the world a better place because of the business?
  • What are the organization's values?
  • How is the purpose manifest in the offerings?
  • How is the purpose manifest in the competencies of the organization?
  • How is the purpose manifest in the structure of the organization?
  • Does the function, process, and structure of the organization fully align with the purpose?
  • Business mission (Hamel, 2002) --
    • What is our business mission?
    • What are we becoming as a company -- can we describe a ""from"" and a ""to""?
    • What is our dream?
    • What kind of difference to we want to make in the world?
    • Is our business mission sufficiently broad to allow for business concept innovation?
    • Is our business mission as relevant to customers as it might have been in years past?
    • Most important, do we have a business mission that is sufficiently distinguished from the missions of other companies in our industry?
  • Product market/scope (Hamel, 2002) --
    • Could we offer our customers something closer to a ""total solution"" to their needs by expanding our definition of product scope?
    • Could we increase our ""share of the wallet"" as well as our share of market by expanding our scope?
    • Would a different definition of scope allow us to capture more of the lifecycle profits associated with our product or service?
    • Are there types of customers that have been generally ignored by companies in our industry?
  • Authenticity and identity (Gilmore & Pine, 2007) -- rendering authenticity is essential for creating value. Rendering authenticity requires knowing yourself as a firm, your identity. See authenticity inquiry to both explore your identity and your rendering of value from the perspective of your customers.

These questions are asked from two orientations - from outside and from inside the business organization.

Purpose and business model elements --
During an inquiry process, answering the questions related to the purpose aspect is one step in defining business model elements and their interrelationships. Though some business model elements are more readily associated with purpose than others, the purpose inquiry has implications for all elements of the business. An aspect of purpose will be manifest in the organization's structure, processes, and function, as well as in the mission. See business model elements for an elaboration of 'aspects' vs. 'business model elements'.

See purpose for further discussion of purpose as it relates to the business organization.

See business model for the structure of the business model elements associated with each aspect of the business organization.