Did you give your company an inspiring purpose?

During a recent workshop with an executive team we spent significant time on spelling out a compelling and relevant purpose. The facilities of the hotel were well suited for our quest, with spacious meeting rooms, a colorful park and beautiful nature surroundings. At some point I ran into the hotel’s vision statement, hanging in a frame at the main entrance. I was intrigued by the serendipity, by its noble purpose and beautiful wording.


Relais & Châteaux's vision is ’to make a better world through cuisine and hospitality’. They see a 'world that is rich in its differences, people from all cultures have always placed importance in two timeless traditions: cuisine and hospitality. Throughout history, these two traditions have contributed to happiness, fellowship and the art of living well: or what the French call l’art de vivre. It’s therefore critical to our humanity – if not mankind – that cuisine and hospitality be cherished, preserved and continually revived, ensuring both can always play a role in our capacity to live well together’. ‘At Relais & Châteaux, we strive to be true artisans and representatives of the restaurant and hotel trade. We see ourselves as both heirs and gatekeepers of not only the rich cultural history of hospitality around the world, but also the wonderful variety of cuisines within it.’
The movement that Relais & Châteaux is aiming to orchestrate is defined by three initiatives:

  • To preserve the diversity of cuisines and hospitality in this world so that future generations can know and share in their richness; a golden rule that is applied at R&C is to offer a cuisine that is in harmony with the geographic location of each property and that respects and reflects seasonal products.
  • Share our passion for all that is good beautiful in this world.
  • To work together to create a more humane world; ’together we can craft and create a new and more humane world, one that is more sensitive and attentive to the essential aspects of dining, warmth and welcome which are the foundations of a more peaceful and open society.'

There is an additional aspect that is worth pointing out. Very much in line with Lars Kolind’s book ‘Unboss’ (some of you might remember his book and his workshop at Mountain Wisdom), they are aspiring to create a movement. With the power of a compelling purpose and a collaborative approach to partners, one can engage stakeholders that are not on your payroll who want to contribute and be part of the movement. Such an approach provides the chance for growth and impact well beyond what a single corporation might be able to achieve. As Lars Kolind had already pointed out, values and rituals are critical elements to shape and preserve the movement.

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For that reason, Relais & Châteaux has spelled out 20 commitments of which I wanted to share some (please find the complete list here):

  • Offer a cuisine that is representative of local traditions and environments and reflects their global diversity
  • Initiate strong relationships with local farmers and fishermen and develop a Conservatory that protects and promotes biodiversity
  • Contribute to renew natural resources by reducing food waste and using seasonal products locally sourced
  • Associate the finest tastes with nutrition and health to show our guests how fine cuisine and well-being go hand in hand
  • Develop a system for training young people in each region in the art of good taste, food preparation and service
  • Sign contracts with small local producers who supply our restaurants, offering them an appropriate price allowing them to grow their products without chemicals or GMO, avoid overproduction and the depletion of natural resources
  • Develop ’The art of taking care and being attentive to someone’s needs and desires’ by conveying, in a personal way, our pleasure to serve, making the experience at Relais & Châteaux a unique, fulfilling and inspiring moment.
  • Participate in the promotion of manual jobs, which stress the importance and value of working with one’s hands, allowing young people to realize professional goals

I trust many of you have read some of Yuval Noah Harari’s books. In his outlook for the future, marked by AI and automatization, he sees mainly three areas for human work: creativity, care, and craft. All three seem to be coming happily together in Relais & Chåteaux vision and commitments.

Now, here are a couple of questions for you:

  • How compelling is the purpose of your company?
  • Does that purpose touch your heart?
  • Would an 8-year-old kid understand your purpose statement?
  • Have you ever thought of orchestrating a movement well beyond the people on your payroll?
  • How can local partners help make your offering more sustainable and environmentally friendly?
  • How much creativity, care and craft is in your daily life?

By the way, the executive team of the logistics company spelled out its purpose as ‘we enable the delivery of what matters to you’ and will support this purpose with a series of values, e.g. achievement orientation, ownership and empowerment, operate with a learner mindset, with one voice, and work effectively as a team.

With the best wishes,