Purpose, purpose, purpose

A (re)new(ed) way of thinking

Albert Einstein once famously said: “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. The severe moral and sustainable problems we face today cannot be solved with the same neoliberal thinking we learned in high school and university since the late ‘70’s. We need to radically make a change from the creation of wealth to the creation of human well-being if we want to stop climate change.

Rich countries consume 4 times more than our mother earth can provide us (worldwide this number is 1.6 times). The way we currently exploit our economic values is not sustainable at all! Furthermore, the richest 1% of our population owns more than the other 99% of our human population on earth. This inequality of wealth distribution endangers peace and solidarity.

True freedom and success is only possible in a world in which all humans get an equal opportunity to lead a happy life. It’s our moral obligation and duty to use business as a force for good. Governments can’t do it alone and are moving too slow. Organizations need to take their responsibility also in reducing poverty, gender equality, zero hunger, quality education and all other sustainable development goals that will get our world back on track.

Peter Drücker already noted years ago that ‘free enterprise cannot be justified as being good for business. It can be justified only as being good for society’. Meaning that your PURPOSE is not what you do or why you do it, but WHY SOCIETY WANTS YOU TO DO IT. Fortunately more and more companies are taking their responsibility to use their business as a force for good. No business was ever started just to make money, all businesses have PURPOSE…..most of them just lost track of their PURPOSE along the way.

Re-designing your business

If you really put PURPOSE (why society wants you to do what you do) central in the way you do business, there is no other way than to ENGAGE your STAKEHOLDERS in your strategic innovation process. You want to develop products and services that make a social and sustainable impact for society, increasing human well-being in your city, country, continent and world. Once you start engaging stakeholders, and do what you say, and say what you do, these people will become your PURPOSE AGENTS, consisting of loyal consumers, who will more likely buy your products, people who love to work for your company, journalists who love to give you free publicity etc. etc. In other words, doing good will become good business!

But, as quoted by Simon Sinek: ‘people will never love your company until your employees love it first’. So, in the process of re-designing your business make sure that your employees are as excited as you about the new way of thinking about how you want to do business. According a worldwide study performed by Gallup, 70% of your employees is NOT ENGAGED at work, and will therefore not actively help you achieve the new goals you have set for your organization. Only 30% does work with passion, empathy, and a deep feeling of interconnectedness on company goals. 50% of your employees do come to work, but sleepwalk during the day, doing only what is minimally required according their job descriptions. The other 20% is the worst, while these employees sabotage all the good work done by the passionate 30%. Getting your employees engaged is therefore your number 1 priority for your organization!

Purpose, purpose, purpose

The first way to increase engagement levels, is to recognize how the daily work of your employees contributes to their personal purpose, mission, objectives. Every person is unique and strives toward his own personal growth, flourish and happiness. The key here is to not treat your people as human resources (mere as a means to achieve a goal), but as WHOLE PERSONS with all their emotions and creativity. Once your employees grow and start generating outcomes that are important to them, your entire organization will profit and your most important stakeholders, your employees, will become your purpose agents too!

A second way to increase engagement levels, is to show employees how their job contributes to the purpose of your organization. RADICAL TRANSPARENCY increases the interconnectedness of your stakeholders with the purpose of your organization. Your employees and other stakeholders need to see and understand what happens to their ideas. Once you include your employees in your strategic innovation processes, and make the contribution of your employees transparant, your employees will become your purpose agents too!

Finally, the interconnectedness of your employees with the purpose of your company increases when the purpose of your organization makes them feel that their jobs are increasing the well-being of people in our society. Therefore, USE also the IDEAS of your EMPLOYEES to make an economic, sustainable and societal impact with your organization!