The Best Companies Know How to Balance Strategy and Purpose

Most companies have articulated their purpose — the reason they exist. But very few have made that purpose a reality for their organizations.

Consider Nokia. Before the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, Nokia was the dominant mobile phone maker with a clearly stated purpose — “Connecting people” — and an aggressive strategy for sustaining market dominance. Seeking to extend its technological edge (particularly in miniaturization), it acquired more than 100 startup companies while pursuing a vast portfolio of research and product development projects. In 2006 alone, Nokia introduced 39 new mobile-device models. Few imagined that this juggernaut, brandishing vast resources with such steely determination, could be quickly brought down.

In retrospect, it seems inevitable. Nokia was so immersed in executing its strategy that it lost sight of its purpose.

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