Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of SCCE’s Compliance & Ethics Professional.

Purpose is not what you do or even how you do it—it’s why you do it. The what and the how will change over time. Just think of how different the way you get things done now is from 5 or 10 years ago (This article was written on a laptop at 35,000 feet and sent over plane Wi-Fi, for example. Remember when emailing from planes was a fantasy?). But purpose—the reason your company does what it does— remains steady, or at least it should.

Culture was the word of 2015, according to Merriam-Webster (and should be for 2016 as well, I would argue). And culture is important. But what is the difference between culture and purpose, and why should directors care?

Culture and purpose are two sides of a coin, I believe. Culture reflects the company’s values, but purpose connects “the heart and the head” and motivates employees to do their best work—thereby connecting the head, the heart, and the wallet.

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