Purpose Playbook

The Purpose Playbook

Putting purpose into practice with shared value

Companies are falling in love with the idea of purpose, and what’s not to love? Done well, a corporate purpose is energizing, inspiring, and creates a shared reason for being. But is simply declaring a purpose beyond profits enough? We think not.

The Purpose Playbook is here to help companies better understand what it means to have a purpose-led organization, what makes a purpose worth having, and how to deliver on the promise of that purpose by focusing on shared value.

Shared value, a business discipline where companies use their core business to drive societal change and enhance their competitiveness, is a powerful practice to fulfill corporate purpose aspirations. This Playbook is designed to help you bring that practice to life.

In the Purpose Playbook, you will find practices, action steps, and company examples, that will help you, the practitioner, navigate your way as you pioneer change in your company, your business ecosystem, and for society.


Watch: An Introduction to the Purpose Playbook

The Purpose Playbook Framework

The Purpose Playbook is grounded in an intuitive framework that starts at the core with Leading with Purpose—a reason for being that guides a company every day. Culture is next and is unique to each company. It may help or hinder purpose aspirations. Finally, nine practices nest in Strategy, Operations and People. Open the Purpose Playbook to learn how they can lead to positive impact for society and your business.

Leading with Purpose

A company’s reason for being that simultaneously helps solve a societal problem and creates significant financial value for the company. Leads with a purpose that is significant, authentic, profitable, and serious.


The implied social order of an organization that influences attitudes, behaviors, and what is valued. Purpose-led organizations have ambition to solve business and societal issues together; they embrace innovation, risk-taking, and collaboration.

Shared Value

Shared value creation focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic progress.

Wondering how to use the Purpose Playbook?

Take this 12-question quick assessment to find out how the Purpose Playbook can best help you.

Nine Practices of the Purpose Playbook

Hover over picture for a full description of each practice.


Shared value practitioners find sources of differentiation by addressing unmet societal needs and create a more sustainable business environment. They are guided by company purpose and bring that purpose alive with shared value.


Opportunities Identification

Identify and prioritize social and environmental opportunities, including unmet societal needs, to create positive business impact.

Sources of Distinction

Select opportunities that help create distinction from the competition by linking societal impacts to business value creation; make that link fundamental to the business model.

Strategies, Goals & Resources

Develop strategies, set priorities and goals, and allocate resources in line with purpose aspirations; identify ways to mitigate negative tension points created by current practices and establish a strong governance process to ensure integrity and progress of shared value efforts.



Shared value practitioners strongly link company activities, methods, and approaches to external conditions that reflect unmet social needs and impediments to business success. They are guided by a mindset and a culture that embrace the belief that business and society can mutually benefit from common activities.


Innovating for Scale

Embrace an open innovation process that seeks to understand problems from the perspective of those affected by them and derives solutions through collaboration; pilot ideas that can be replicated and scale ideas that work.

New Models of Cooperation

Bring together players, resources, and systems needed to deliver shared value in new and unexpected ways; ground approach in the belief that true partnerships and new collaborations are imperative for the success of shared value.

Measurement & Reporting

Determine business and societal outcomes of shared value efforts, understanding their links and any reinforcing effects; analyze outcomes to inform future strategies and operations, including decisions to scale.



Shared value practitioners are purpose-led, and a company’s people practices are key to enabling and empowering this talent to reimagine the way business is done. Purpose-led companies attract, retain, and develop talent through meaningful work and a reason for being beyond profits, and they create a culture that embraces creativity, co-creation, learning from mistakes, vulnerability, and challenging the status quo.


Organizational Design

Create structures, roles, relationships, and processes that encourage and enable collaboration and co-creation across functions, sectors, and when appropriate, with competitors, civil society, government, and other relevant actors to better enable shared value.

Talent Acquisition & Development

Seek purpose-led talent and attract, retain, and develop this talent; develop and support a shared value mindset across all talent.

Engagement & Communications

Engage people internally and externally through purpose and a commitment to shared value; seek to deepen and sustain this commitment through information, inspiration, and relevant stories.

Comments & Feedback

We look forward to hearing from you as you explore the Purpose Playbook. Please feel free to send your thoughts to comments@purposeplaybook.org.