Expleo’s UK Quality MD Stephen Magennis asks whether a well-defined purpose will help change a brand’s relationship with customers. Is purpose the secret ingredient for motivating employees and unlocking growth potential in a highly competitive market?

The old way of drawing up a growth strategy was to set targets along a fixed four-year period, and then advance steadfastly towards that goal.

Nowadays, looking too far ahead could prove a hazardous approach. The speed of technological change in today’s highly-competitive marketplace – compounded by the deep uncertainty around geopolitical concerns such as Brexit and globalisation – mean that a straight-line strategy is likely to flat-line pretty quickly. The reality is that the world outside your business will be moving faster than your own world, leaving you vulnerable to stagnation.

One of the best ways of keeping pace – and preferably setting the pace – is to define the core purpose for your business and then use it to guide your growth strategy. The first step is comparatively easy. What is the positive impact that you want to make on your customers and wider society? For example, at Expleo, we believe our own reason to exist is helping businesses to harness technological change that will improve the lives of people around the world.

Empathy as a growth driver

Bringing that purpose into the heart of the growth strategy is more challenging. Rather than transmitting your grand plans with a loudhailer, you need to become actively responsive to the twists and turns of the customer journey. By adopting their field of vision, you’ll find new areas for expansion that previously sat outside your own. Besides, improving the customer journey is good for business anyway, with proven opportunities to increase revenue and reduce cost to serve.

Of course, to mobilise your purpose, you first need to tune your own people into the wavelength of the world outside your office walls. Turning our own core purpose into a source of inspiration and motivation for our people is something we take seriously at Expleo. We invite our teams to think beyond the inner workings of technology and stay mindful of its everyday impact in society. Put simply: how does it feel to stand in the shoes of end users?

It’s ok to care

For example, one of our mobile payment experts takes great satisfaction in knowing that the work they are doing means “customers can make use of the latest payments technology, benefiting from more convenient and seamless transactions and no frequent authentication requests, saving them a huge amount of time”.

Her colleague has helped to develop a global supply chain system for a global music corporation that will deliver cost savings and also ensure that the artists get the credit and royalties they are due. “By having a robust system in place, the music corporation and the artists can continue to invest in making new music,” he said. “I am proud that my work is playing a part in protecting musicians and moving culture forward.”

At Expleo, our growth plans for 2020 include being a consultancy industry leader and partner of choice for our clients. We’re taking steps to create greater development and career opportunities for our people, while building a profitable growth-based company on behalf of our stakeholders.

At the heart of this strategy is the need to feel satisfaction and pride in the work we do, and the value we deliver. By revisiting those emotional drivers regularly – and making purpose and awareness part of the company culture – we aim to embed a more adaptive and proactive growth strategy that will benefit our business, people and customers alike.