PurPle (Purpose + People) by MSLGROUP

I am delighted to share that we have launched PurPle (Purpose + People), MSLGROUP’s citizenship offering, which I created with our Chief Strategy Officer Pascal Beucler.

PurPle (Purpose + People) is MSLGROUP’s global offering for helping business leaders drive positive change by catalyzing collaborative social innovation and grassroots change movements. Grounded in the new triple bottom line – purpose, performance and participation – PurPle puts people at the center of its proprietary strategic communications process and helps unlock purpose for companies, to maximize participation and performance.

PurPle is rooted in the idea that purpose is about opportunity and potential, and people make it real with their passion and insights. To become PurPle, organizations need a shared purpose to inspire people, platforms to organize people, programs to energize people, and stories to spark participation and action.

While PurPle includes corporate citizenship and cause marketing initiatives, the most powerful PurPle initiatives truly integrate purpose and participation to catalyze collaborative social innovation with stakeholders or grassroots change movements with consumers.

PurPle Manifesto

Here’s the the PurPle Manifesto, in text, poster, and video formats:

PurPle Manifesto text:

Are you PurPle?

Society has changed. People don’t trust brands. People have new sources of power. People are seeking meaningful connections.
People are demanding that business has a purpose.

Business has changed.Good growth is good for business, to open opportunities for innovation, become more customer-centric, attract and retain talent, build relationships with governments.

The relationship between business and society needs to change, to create shared value: environment, energy and sustainability; health, wellness and nutrition; education, learning, and capability building; happiness, kindness and human potential.

Purpose + People. PurPle.

How can businesses become PurPle, create collaborative social innovation,catalyze grassroots change movements? A shared purpose to inspire people, platforms to organize people, programs to energize people, stories to spark participation and action.

Purpose + People. Purpose is about opportunity and potential. People make it real with their passion and insights.

Purpose + People. PurPle.

PurPle Manifesto poster:

PurPle Manifesto video:

From Green to Blue to PurPle

Over the first decade of the 21st century, what it means to be a good corporate citizen has changed dramatically. The intersection of four seismic shifts – end of trust, power to people, quest for meaning and rise of shared value – has made it imperative for organizations to integrate purpose, participation and performance.

Four shifts in society

1. The end of trust: People have more information than ever before and people don’t trust organizations. In fact, trust in all organizations, including corporations and governments, is at an all-time low across the world. Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, has pointed out that “if [social media activists] can bring down the Egyptian regime in a few weeks, they can bring us down in nanoseconds.”

2. Power to the people: People have new sources of power and people believe that only they themselves can come up with innovative solutions to our most pressing problems, not governments or corporations. Jill Beraud, former CMO of PepsiCo America Beverages, shared that the Pepsi Optimism Project research study showed that young people believe that normal people, not public figures, are most likely to “motivate and inspire curious minds and creative spirits to achieve a greater good.”

3. The quest for meaning: People are searching for meaning connections with communities and organizations around a shared purpose, and expect organizations to enable such connections.

4. The rise of shared value: People are demanding that organizations not only rediscover their social purpose but also put it at the core of how they conduct their business and engage with their stakeholders, to create shared value.  Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, believes that “successful companies can only create solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems by working collaboratively” and argues that “business must engage — with communities, governments, customers and each other — because the status quo is not an option.”

Therefore, to stay relevant to their stakeholders, organizations need to move from green (with a focus on environment) and blue (with a focus on sustainability), to PurPle (with a focus on purpose and people). Environment and sustainability continue to be important, but they are not enough. Organizations need to rediscover their unique purpose and realize it by inspiring, organizing and energizing their people. In short, organizations need to move from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to Collaborative Social Innovation (CSI).

From Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to Collaborative Social Innovation (CSI)

Collaborative Consumption

Photo from seyyed_mostafa_zamani on Flickr

1. From corporate to collaborative: Organizations need to not only rediscover their purpose, but also work together with their stakeholders to discover a shared purpose that all their stakeholders can commit to. A. G. Lafley, CEO and Chairman of P&G, had shared that “consumers are beginning in a very real sense to own our brands and participate in their creation… we need to begin to learn to let go.”

2. From social to social squared: Organizations need to not only create solutions that benefit the society, but also collaborate with all their stakeholders to co-create them. Filippo Passerini, former President of Global Business Services at P&G, believed that “the opportunity for businesses today is to become networks—with a culture of collaborative innovation, stewardship and integrity.”

3. From responsibility to innovation: Organizations need to not only do good, but also collaborate with their stakeholders to co-create innovative and sustainable solutions that create value for all stakeholders. Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, sees “sustainability, both social and environmental, as a powerful path to innovation, and crucial to our growth strategies.”

Michael Dell, CEO and Chairman of Dell, sums up the opportunity this positive multi-stakeholder approach opens up for all of us: “The new engine of innovation driven by collaboration, openness, stewardship and the power of the social web gives all of us an opportunity to drive even more rapid, meaningful change across global institutions.”

To help organizations navigate this journey, we have created two powerful tools: the PurPle Opportunity Matrix and the PurPle Journey Matrix. The PurPle Opportunity Matrix helps organizations identify opportunities for collaborative social innovation that integrate purpose, participation and performance. The PurPle Journey Matrix helps organizations navigate the journey from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to collaborative social innovation (CSI).

The PurPle Opportunity Matrix

We have seen that collaborative social initiatives are designed at the intersection of the corporation’s internal strategic pillars and external opportunity areas.

Four internal strategic pillars

Four internal strategic pillars

Global CEOs recognize that, in order to effectively drive strategic change internationally, it’s important for them to pursue “good growth” – growth that is financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable (PwC Global CEO Survey 2011).

For global CEOs, the four pillars to drive strategic change internationally include: customer-centricity, innovation, talent and a shared policy agenda.

1. Customer centricity
Responding to changing behaviors in Western markets and new demands from fast growing markets in Asia, for both consumers and enterprise customers. Specifically, responding to growing customer sentiment about environmental, social and governance practices. For instance, Dell inspires young social innovators to share ideas to tackle the world’s problems and empowers them with access to peers and mentors and a chance to win funding, with the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.

2. Innovation
Co-creating products and services by collaborating with partners and customers, often in non-home fast growing markets. Specifically, co-creating socially beneficial products and services. For instance, Heineken inspired people to share ideas on creating sustainable packaging for beer, with the Ideas Brewery: Sustainable Packaging Challenge.

3. Talent
Bridging skill mismatches to address the unique needs of a two-speed world, with slow growth in the Western markets and fast growth in Asian markets. Specifically, attracting the talent to deliver on the social innovation and change management strategy. For instance, IBM sends teams of employees to different countries for four week community based development projects intersecting business, development and society, with its Corporate Service Corps program.

4. Shared Policy Agenda
Collaborating with government agencies in the areas of education, workforce health, intellectual property and infrastructure. For instance, IBM collaborated with local governments to develop sustainable systems with $50 million worth of IBM technology and expertise, with its Smarter Cities Challenge.

Four external change opportunity areas

four external opportunity areas

There are millions of causes, but the three most important opportunity areas for organizations to truly integrate business and societal objectives are: environment, health and education.

In addition, we have added a fourth opportunity area related to “happiness, kindness and human potential”, based on our analysis of socio-economic trends and corporate messages.

1. Environment, energy and sustainability
Key socio-economic trends driving the environment opportunity include: energy insecurity; pressure from NGOs like Greenpeace; and consumer willingness to pay a premium for green products. For instance, Sygenta challenges students to answer the question ‘how will we feed 9 billion people by 2050,’ with the Thought for Food Challenge.

2. Health, wellness and nutrition
Key socio-economic trends driving the health opportunity include: rise in lifestyle related diseases; rising cost of healthcare; and consumer willingness to pay a premium for organic and healthy products. For instance, GE inspires businesses, innovators, entrepreneurs and students to share solutions around head health and cancer detection, with the Healthymagination Challenge.

3. Education, learning and capability building
Key socio-economic trends driving the education opportunity include: gaps in public education; gap between demand and supply of mid-skilled manpower; and global war for high-skilled knowledge workers. For instance, HP partnered with Junior Achievement to empower students around the world to build their capabilities and become social innovators, with the Social Innovation Relay.

4. Happiness, kindness and human potential
Key socio-economic trends driving the happiness opportunity include: prolonged recession in the West, the gap between aspirations and reality in emerging markets, and our increasingly solitary lives. For instance, Doritos empowered youth in Argentina to come together with a movement to bring slow dancing back.

The PurPle Opportunity Matrix

Organizations can find opportunities to integrate purpose, participation and performance at the intersection of four internal change drivers and four external opportunity areas.

4x4 PurPle Matrix

The PurPle Opportunity Matrix is essentially a left-brain tool for visually representing the right brain approach of synthesizing complex priorities into a compelling narrative.

How to use the PurPle Opportunity Matrix

To help an organization rediscover and recommit to its shared purpose, we start with one-to-one interviews and group workshops with the organization’s leaders, to understand the values of its founders and the strategic priorities of its leaders. We then invite employees and stakeholders to participate in an online network to reaffirm these values and strategic priorities and explore external change opportunities that are relevant to both the organization and its stakeholders. Finally, we organize a workshop with the organization’s leaders and stakeholders to synthesize their ideas and create platforms and programs that truly resonate with both the organization’s internal strategic priorities and external change opportunities.

The PurPle Journey Matrix

We have seen that organizations typically go through four phases in the journey from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to collaborative social innovation (CSI). Purpose and people are at the core of this shift, which we call PurPle (Purpose + People), and we created a 2X2 matrix called the PurPle Journey Matrix to help organizations think about this shift.

2x2 PurPle Journey Matrix

The Y-axis of the PurPle Journey Matrix is potential versus protection. Most organizations first engage in protection initiatives to minimize negative impact, as the perceived punishment for negative impact is higher than the perceived reward for positive impact. However, once most organizations adopt protection initiatives, they simply become expected of any organization. As organizations begin to see that meaningful potential initiatives can help them engage with their stakeholders, including employees, at a deeper level, they start exploring them more seriously.

The X-axis of the PurPle Journey Matrix is corporate reputation versus consumer activation. Most organizations first started thinking about their purpose from a corporate reputation perspective. Over the last decade, many have been tempted to tap into the growing consumer sentiment for doing good by creating cause marketing and (increasingly) movement marketing initiatives. Over time, these initiatives have turned into a cacophony of copycats and consumers have become critical of communications campaigns that are not rooted in commitment. So, most organizations now realize that corporate reputation and consumer activation are intrinsically interlinked.

The four quadrants created by the intersection of protection/ potential and corporate reputation/ consumer activation create the four phases of the PurPle Journey: corporate social responsibility, philanthropy-based cause marketing, purpose-inspired cause marketing and purpose-inspired movement marketing.

While we are seeing a shift from protection to potential initiatives, protection initiatives are still table stakes. Similarly, like we said earlier, corporate reputation and consumer activation have become intrinsically interlinked. So, organizations need to have initiatives in all four quadrants, but weave them into a cohesive PurPle Ecosystem.

The PurPle Journey Matrix helps organizations navigate this new normal at two levels. At one level, it helps organizations transform their protection initiatives into potential initiatives by adding the magical element of people and participation to them. At another level, it helps organizations map out their PurPle initiatives against relevant others, identify opportunities to connect them into a cohesive PurPle Ecosystem, and tell a consistent, compelling story around them. But, first let’s understand the nuances of each of the four stages of the PurPle Journey themselves.

Corporate social responsibility (protection/ corporate reputation)

Corporate social responsibility initiatives typically focus on protecting corporate reputation by minimizing the organization’s negative impact on the society or compensating for it via philanthropic donations.

We have identified three types of corporate social responsibility initiatives: sustainability, philanthropy, and volunteering.

1. Sustainability initiatives typically involve restructuring operations and supply chain to reduce energy or material consumption, apart from ensuring regulatory compliance and reporting. For instance, Volkswagen has launched various local sustainability initiatives to create a culture of sustainability internally and externally, and to produce fuel-efficient products as part of its Think Blue philosophy.

2. Philanthropy initiatives typically include making philanthropic donations to non-profits and foundations. For instance, JPMorgan Chase and its Foundation gave more than $190 million to nonprofit organizations in 37 countries in 2012 as part of its global philanthropy program.

3. Volunteering initiatives often encourage employees to volunteer time or money for causes supported by the organization, via programs like designated volunteering days or matching donations. For instance, Wells Fargo matches employee’s financial contributions to eligible schools and educational foundations, through its Matching Gifts Program.

Philanthropy-based cause marketing (protection/ consumer activation)

Philanthropy-based cause marketing initiatives typically focus on supporting a cause, by linking philanthropic donations to consumer actions, like buying the company’s products, talking about the cause or voting for the cause.

We have identified three types of philanthropy-based cause marketing initiatives: retail cause marketing, philanthropy contests, and viral cause marketing.

1. Retail cause marketing encourage consumers to support causes by buying specific products, by linking philanthropic donations to sales of the company’s products. For instance, several brands have partnered with (RED) and contribute a portion of (RED) product sales to the Global Fund Against HIV/AIDS.

2. Philanthropy contests ask non-profits to activate their networks to vote for them in a contest to win philanthropic donations. For instance, Toyota empowered people to decide which non-profits should qualify as recipients in its philanthropy program 100 Cars for Good.

3. Viral cause marketing initiatives link philanthropic donations to number of virtual actions or conversations about the cause, using embeds, likes, or retweets. For instance, Samsung donated £1 to local children’s charities for every mile of activity tracked on the Samsung Hope Relay mobile application.

Purpose-inspired movement marketing (potential/ consumer activation)

Purpose-inspired movement marketing initiatives typically focus on inspiring consumers to act as change agents within their own communities and create grassroots movements around a shared purpose, or Social Heartbeat.

We have identified three types of purpose-inspired movement marketing initiatives: behavior change platforms, change agents platforms and programs to crowdsource social change.

1. Behavior change platforms create the tools and the support system to enable individuals and communities to change deeply entrenched behaviors. For instance, Alpenliebe has catalyzed a grassroots change movement in China by inspiring millions of Chinese youth to share, appreciate and engage in everyday acts of kindness.

2. Change agents platforms provide the tools and the enabling ecosystem for people to act as change agents in their communities. For instance, in 2009, Starbucks encouraged consumers to volunteer five hours of their time to community projects.

3. Crowdsourcing social change initiatives involve creating broad contests with consumers to crowdsource ideas for social change. For instance, in 2010 and 2011, PepsiCo gave grants worth $20 million per year to ideas that can refresh the world.

Collaborative social innovation (potential/ corporate reputation)

Collaborative social innovation initiatives typically focus on inspiring, organizing and energizing stakeholders, including employees, to co-create innovative and sustainable solutions around a shared purpose, or Social Heartbeat.

Dell Go Green

MSLGROUP’s Dell Go Green Challenge

We have identified three types of collaborative social innovation initiatives: platforms to crowdsource social innovation, social innovation ecosystems and public-private networks.

1. Crowdsourcing social innovation initiatives involve creating focused contests with relevant stakeholders to crowdsource ideas for social innovation. For instance, as part of its commitment to “imagine and build innovative solutions to environment challenges”, GE has created the $200 million GE Ecomagination Challenge to fund ideas that can reimagine powering the grid, or powering homes.

2. Social innovation ecosystems are open networks that catalyze an ecosystem of social innovation by bringing together stakeholders and know-how. For instance, as part of its Mahindra Rise purpose to enable its stakeholders to rise, Mahindra Group created the Spark the Rise challenge in 2011 to support ideas that can propel innovation, entrepreneurship, and positive change in India. The platform not only gives grants to the most popular ideas, but also enables others to support them by donating time, equipment, expertise or funding.

3. Public-private networks are public or private networks that bring together stakeholders from business, government, academia and civil society to institutionalize social innovation. For instance, Walmart has created 14 Sustainable Value Networks since 2005 to bring together diverse stakeholders to develop solutions to fulfill Walmart’s commitment towards renewable energy, zero waste and sustainable products.

Three reasons to go PurPle

Your organization might have just started on the PurPle Journey through a corporate social responsibility or a cause marketing program. Or, it might have a number of initiatives spread all over the PurPle Journey Matrix. In either case, our PurPle approach can help you rethink the interconnections between purpose, participation and performance.

PurPle manifesto

Click to enlarge

In summary, here are three reasons for your organization to go PurPle and build a more meaningful engagement with your stakeholders:

  1. Inspire your stakeholders to co-create innovative and sustainable social innovation solutions.
  2. Inspire consumers to act as change agents and create grassroots movements.
  3. Connect existing initiatives into a cohesive PurPle Ecosystem and tell a compelling story around them.


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