OK, here goes..
The whole chapter was too wieldy at 4,543 words so I am dividing Chapter 1 into 3 extracts that I’ve reduced down and will blog individually through the week:
- Introducing Purpose of Significance – below
- Inspiring examples – tomorrow/Weds
- How to get there! – Weds/Thurs
The kind of feedback I’d value:
- Does the idea of Purpose of Significance work for you?
- Are the two bulleted lists missing anything, or even over-stating things?
- Comments on style
- Typos, grammar stuff
- Does this approach work for you – or would a PDF or shorter extracts be better?
Also: I plan to write the Intro at the very end, so this may start with a jolt – just imagine you’ve read some cool uplifting stuff about how we’re all changing the world!
———————————— <— the line of no return…
Chapter 1: Purpose
Last century we in the world of business lost sight of higher meaning, of purpose beyond simply profits. People – many of us – went to work every day without a sense of a more meaningful contribution beyond the monthly pay packet, the sense of responsibility, slaving away working for the man, for anonymous, financially-driven shareholders, in businesses large and small. The trudge, the wear and tear of everyday business and the bad behaviour of many corporations turned business into a dirty word.
So what do we do now?
This is the opportunity we have before us. To guide our organisations, our teams, our projects towards higher meaning. To be part of the movement that demands a greater contribution from business than just profits. To discover and share real purpose.
A Purpose of Significance
An organisation designed to thrive in this radically different century before us has a very clear purpose that creates meaning way beyond financial results. A purpose that solves big meaningful challenges and opportunities in society. Something that really makes sense. This is a Purpose of Significance.
Why does A Purpose of Significance matter?
The simple truth is that today the accepted wisdom is that the purpose of a business is to increase shareholder value. Purely and simply. This is what is ingrained in business schools and boardrooms, in the minds of so many of us – it is very hard for any of us to stray from this path.
Increasingly we’re realising that where this gets us to isn’t such a pretty place. As the inspiring Umair Haque tweeted: “Making shareholder enrichment the basis of an economy is probably an idea that belongs up there with Cheez Whiz and Donald Trump’s hair.”
Why will a Purpose of Significance make a difference?
In practical terms a clear purpose helps in the following ways:
• Attracting and then retaining the very best talent in your workforce – see People
• Unlocking the highest levels of engagement – see People
• Acquiring and retaining customers in an environment of ruthless competition and the ever-present threat of commoditisation
• Providing both a compass and a motivation for innovation
• Gaining competitive advantage from very diverse (and often otherwise disruptive) stakeholders by framing the organisation in a context that truly matters and contributes to society
What does A Purpose of Significance look like?
The thing is, the idea that Purpose really makes a difference in business in not new.
Then what is different with this movement of 21st century businesses? Today, it is the Significance bit.
We can put a man on the moon, we can invent better mousetraps and sell a bajillion plastic bottles of mineral water. To be ‘compelling’ in today’s world, we must work towards the urgent, the difficult, the pressing problems of our time.
The enlightened shareholders, employees, partners and consumers of the 21st century demand a Purpose of Significance.
A Purpose of Significance: the checklist
Here is how to think about how to design a purpose that fits:
• Does this Purpose address a fundamental problem that is caused or excarcebated by this businesses industry?
• Does this Purpose lead to decisions which can surpress or limit short-term financial gains for longer-term achievements?
• Does this Purpose inspire a community to develop?
• Does this Purpose address a fundamental injustice in the world?
• Does this Purpose disrupt and positively revolutionize a whole marketplace?
• Does this Purpose fundamentally make the world a better place?
This is our job. This is how to make business better. This is how business can help to solve the big problems of our time.
Please help make this better through the comments or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
The next extract will be published tomorrow: Chapter 1: Purpose, Inspiring Examples. And then later in the week: Chapter 1: Purpose, How to get there! And we’re off…