Camif, a French consumer goods online retailer of home furnishings, became one of the first ‘purpose-driven’ companies in 2017. Currently, the notion of purpose is a hot topic in leadership, yet the definition remains elusive. The Society & Organizations (S&O) Institute proposes to define purpose as “a statement that expresses the reason for being of an organization and its maintenance in the long run. It may or may not be prosocial. Purpose may be stated by an organization’s members but needs not to coincide with organizational leadership practices per se.”
The Camif story is of inspiration to non-profit as well as for-profit companies worldwide of how to reconcile the seemingly contradictory needs between profit motives, stakeholder and environmental sustainability concerns.
Why this case?
As a first French company to explore purposeful organizations, key learnings are poignant. It enables students to reflect on how to define a clear purpose for an organization and the link between strategy and purpose. Indeed, the company’s purpose serves as a guide to make strategic choices and tradeoffs.