Culture Eats Purpose for Breakfast

The Purpose Fallacy

When having a purpose can harm your business

Patrick Berry
3 min readApr 11, 2022


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

You may have noticed one of the current management fads is that every organisation needs to be purpose-driven as this is said to be the only way to ensure engaged staff and loyal customers.

The extent of interest in this can be gauged by searching “Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization” on Google which at the time of writing returned 185 million results!

This brief article will discuss the key ideas presented in the HBR article, Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization, which explores the dangers of being ‘purpose-driven’ when it is not appropriate and suggests an alternate approach.


The authors suggest that much of the challenge with defining an organisation’s purpose is the fact the word purpose has multiple meaning. The three meaning relevant here are,

“a need”, which the author’s label as competence, the function that the product or service serves.

“determination or a feeling of having a reason for what you do”, labelled as culture, which includes the intent with which a business is run.



Patrick Berry

Industrial Process Control, Operational Technology, Industry 4.0, Cybersecurity, Digital TX, AI, ML, Data Analytics