Three questions to gauge whether companies are fulfilling their purpose

Stating the purpose of an organization is not enough; it must also be measured. Knowledge, motivation, and action are its three key dimensions.

Ángel Alloza

Article by Carlos Rey, Ángel Alloza, and Clara Fontán published in The Conversation. 

A purpose-driven company aims to leave a social legacy through its activities. This commitment leads many companies to include a purpose statement on their websites. But do they truly measure to what extent this purpose is present in how their employees think, feel, and act? Most organizations do not

What isn't measured is hardly managed, leading to the purpose not being fully experienced in many companies. The 3D purpose index sets out to change this.. 

This index is a three-dimensional measure of internal purpose experience, consisting of three questions introduced in internal employee surveys. Using a five-point scale, employees express their level of agreement on the following issues:  

  1. "The behavior of managers is consistent with the company's purpose/mission." 
  2. "The purpose/mission of my company is aligned with my personal values." 
  3. "The behavior of my colleagues is consistent with the company's purpose/mission." 

Coherence, authenticity, and integrity  

The questions of the 3D index stem from over 15 years of research on corporate purpose measurement. They are based on the Purpose 3D model, which encompasses three dimensions of purpose: knowledge, motivation, and action, represented by head, heart, and hands. 

At the intersection of these dimensions lie the three questions of the 3D index: 

  • The first question measures coherence between knowledge and action, reflecting the extent to which the company's management decisions are consistent with the purpose. 
  • The second measures authenticity between knowledge and motivation, reflecting the extent to which company members identify with the purpose. 
  • The third measures integrity between motivation and action, reflecting the extent to which the purpose is an integral part of the culture at all levels of the organization. 

These three dimensions are crucial for effective purpose execution: authenticity, coherence, and integrity. 

In selecting the three questions of the 3D index, the following criteria were used: 

  • Statistical representativeness: from a total of 38 purpose experience indicators, those with the highest statistical correlation and fit to each of the three dimensions were selected. Managerial exemplarity was considered for coherence; personal values alignment for authenticity; and peer behavior for integrity. 
  • Clarity of interpretation: to ensure clarity in interpreting the three questions, analysis and testing groups were organized with executives, middle managers, and employees from different organizations. Based on the results, adaptations were made, both in denotative and connotative aspects, so that the three questions can be used in different areas and levels of the company. 
  • Anchoring minimization: to minimize the anchoring effect between questions, those related to behavior were placed first and third, with the one referring to personal identification placed second. This ensures greater reliability in the response to each dimension. 

Measure to improve 

The Measure to Improve movement was created to promote the widespread use of the Purpose 3D index. It is a global, collaborative, non-profit initiative that seeks to revolutionize how companies internally measure and promote purpose experience. 

Joining the movement entails the commitment to include the three questions in internal surveys, verify the results, and share them anonymously. Thus, reports can be drawn up that will help companies to compare themselves with other similar companies and to identify improvement actions. 

Ultimately, the goal is to place purpose at the center of all company operations and decisions, on the organizations' dashboard. Because for those companies that believe purpose comes first, the first indicator should be the purpose itself. 

Mayte Márquez and Álex Montaner, experts in the implementation and development of purpose, are co-authors of this article. 

All written content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.