Disruption is not the holy grail, businesses need meaningful purpose to future proof themselves. This is what Jason Foo, the CEO of BBD Perfect Storm, told delegates at the Dublin Tech Summit earlier today. “Relying on tech as your disruption will mean your business advantage is only temporary. What is hot technologically today will be surpassed tomorrow,” Foo warned. In his talk “Disrupting the disruptors: On Purpose,” Foo told the audience at the Innovation stage that disruptors are just as open to disruption by the next innovation as the companies they have surpassed. “Meaningful purpose is how you will protect yourself from being disrupted in the future,” Foo advised. The notion of companies having a meaningful purpose isn’t new for marketers but the need has never been greater, he said, adding: “We’re at a crisis point in terms of people’s trust and belief in brands, companies, even governments.”
“Meaningful purpose is how you will protect yourself from being disrupted in the future”
Not only do millennials prefer brands that connect with a social cause, but having a meaningful purpose galvanises staff and allows businesses to attract the best talent, Foo explained, noting that Unilever, which is ranked the most purposeful company in the world, is the eighth most applied to organisation on LinkedIn. But the advantage that purpose offers to companies, particularly those in the tech innovation space, extends far beyond this. “Having a clear purpose that transcends profit will make your company more innovative,” he argued. In short, Foo said, purpose could be the secret to innovation.
“Having a clear purpose that transcends profit will make your company more innovative”
Purposeful company culture with a long term values-led approach results in highly collaborative and creative employees with permission to take risks, he explained. Those risks are what lead to innovation and, ultimately, enable disruption. He compared this approach to a short-term profit focus, which leads to risk aversion and therefore lack of innovation. Foo was also critical of those companies that make grandiose “purposeful promises” but fail to live up to them. “You need to be brave and take sides in an argument. There are macro cultural forces and you need to decide where you stand if you want to really matter to your consumers.” He noted that Starbucks’ reputation score got the second highest weekly rise on YouGov’s Brand Index of the biggest fast food and drink brands after the company took a stand against President Trump’s travel ban, announcing that it would hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.
“Be as pioneering in your purpose as you are in your technological disruption”
Foo demonstrated to the audience how BBD Perfect Storm works with sports compression clothing brand SKINS to successfully disrupt through its brand purpose, "Fueling the True Spirit of Competition," and fighting to give every athlete an equal chance to get to the starting line. He revealed how this has led to SKINS combatting corruption, racism and homophobia on and off the field of play. “It’s just not about what you stand for, but what you are prepared to take a stand against,” he concluded, adding: “Be as pioneering in your purpose as you are in your technological disruption. Then you will create a business that people will not only notice, but truly love.”