Andrew McAuley, Assistant Manager, Audit and Assurance, Grant Thornton Ireland 

Andrew McAuley
Andrew McAuley

Why does your organisation exist? What do you stand for? These are big questions that can feel tough to tackle among the day-to-day running of a business. However, knowing and clearly communicating why you do what you do will become increasingly vital.

When it comes to tackling purpose, a lack of definition can be a problem. Terms such as ‘purpose’, ‘mission’, and ‘vision’ are often used interchangeably, confusing an issue that’s already frustrated by a lack of hard metrics. While these elements are linked, there are clear differences between them.

‘Purpose’ is your ‘why.’ It should both drive you and inspire those that work with you. As a constant, your purpose is both the foundation to build on, and the light to guide you in decision making, particularly in uncertain times.

‘Mission’ is your ‘how.’  The short, medium and long-term planning that shapes your strategy.  Your mission uses your purpose to inform the strategic changes it makes. Mission is the line between purpose and vision.

‘Vision’ is where you aspire to be. The results you want to reach for and the measurable goals you want to achieve. Your vision reminds you of the impact you want to make on your stakeholders, and helps to align leadership and the wider team.

So, what are the benefits of articulating your organisations’ purpose? There are many, and here are the top five:

(1) A clear purpose gives people something to believe in, empowering and energising your workforce in terms of discretionary effort, while also helping attract and retain new talent;

(2) Clarity aligns resources to a common goal, creating efficiency through a shared, and clearly understood, focus;

(3) Your purpose operates as an easily identifiable direction, providing guidance in decision making, stability and resilience;

(4) Your purpose builds consistency; around which goodwill can grow; and

(5) A clearly articulated purpose, embedded throughout your business, makes you more attractive to investors concerned with long-term performance. This can lead to greater investor confidence, access to cheaper debt through certainty, and further add to a business’ stability and resilience.

The advantages of embedding a clear purpose throughout your business can’t be ignored.  Neither can the increasing evidence that businesses with a clear and enduring purpose outperform the market.

Your purpose is your reason for being. It should be clear, enduring and it should inspire. It is long-term clarity in a short-term world, and there is no better time to start working on it than now.

For further information or advice, Andrew McAuley be contacted at

Grant Thornton (NI) LLP specialises in audit, tax and advisory services.