Tipping Point for Organizational Purpose?
My formal relationship with purpose began in the business world through Conscious Capitalism, since ‘Higher Purpose’ is one of the four pillars that defines a Conscious Business in that community. I’m deeply involved with the thriving Chicago Chapter of Conscious Capitalism and I’ve also researched business purpose by interviewing more than 175 leaders from different organizations, conveyed through video interviews, written stories and a new book.
After I sold my digital agency in late 2016, I began an even deeper investigation of purpose, which resulted in my path to be a True Purpose® Coach.
Plenty of people have been working on purpose and amplifying its impact long before me. Notably, Simon Sinek, Raj Sisodia, HP, Victor Frankl, heck you can take it back to the ancient philosophers. I mean, who hasn’t spent some time wondering why we’re here?
So What’s Different Now?
A 2017 report from EY Beacon Institute defines organizational purpose as, “a human-centered, socially-engaged conception of purpose that seeks to create value for a broad set of stakeholders. We have labelled this definition as capital P ‘Purpose.’ The current disruptive environment is changing how people see their purpose and the value that it provides. Two-thirds of executives (66%) are profoundly rethinking their purpose as a result of disruption, and most of those (52%) are moving toward our definition of Purpose. Seventy-three percent of business leaders say that having a well-integrated purpose will help their company navigate disruption.”
These are significant leadership trends. What’s most compelling is that we seem to be evolving the purpose discussion beyond the superficial “lowercase p” purpose, that reads more like a marketing tagline, and into something that people truly believe in, and that guides the behavior and moral decision-making of an enterprise. This excites me to no end, because positive world change only happens when we truly integrate purpose into the daily workings of our organizations.
BlackRock Leads the Way for Financial Firms
I notice more and more people who seem like traditional capitalists buying into the idea of a Purpose that runs deep and leads to real positive change. One of the biggest headlines was Larry Fink’s annual letter to CEOs, entitled “A Sense of Purpose.”
Fink wrote, “Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders. It will succumb to short-term pressures to distribute earnings, and, in the process, sacrifice investments in employee development, innovation, and capital expenditures that are necessary for long-term growth. It will remain exposed to activist campaigns that articulate a clearer goal, even if that goal serves only the shortest and narrowest of objectives. And ultimately, that company will provide subpar returns to the investors who depend on it to finance their retirement, home purchases, or higher education.
“Companies must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment? Are we working to create a diverse workforce? Are we adapting to technological change? Are we providing the retraining and opportunities that our employees and our business will need to adjust to an increasingly automated world? Are we using behavioral finance and other tools to prepare workers for retirement, so that they invest in a way that will help them achieve their goals?”
BlackRock manages $1.7 trillion in active funds, and Fink’s primary message in the letter was that companies need to be more purposeful. Beyond any sense of fulfillment or “feeling good,” truly purposeful companies perform better in the marketplace!
Learn and Integrate Your Company’s True Purpose®
So it would seem that we’ve finally amassed enough market data to prove that purpose is neither a luxury your company can’t afford nor a plaque you just stick on the wall. The world demands to know what you stand for and your tribe will reward you for truly standing in it.
Are you ready to know your company’s True Purpose® and integrate it into the DNA of your daily operations? Give us a call to find out where to begin.