When a company demonstrates an authentic purpose, consumers feel a connection to the products and company. They will choose the authentically purposeful company’s products, even if it’s not the cheapest offering.
An organization without purpose manages people and resources, while an organization with purpose mobilizes people and resources. Purpose is a key ingredient for a strong, sustainable, scalable organizational culture. It’s an unseen-yet-ever-present element that drives an organization. It can be a strategic starting point, a product differentiator, and an organic attractor of users and customers.
As a company, it’s important to think about why you are in the business you’re in. What drives you? If your business succeeds, what would your ideal world look like? When a company demonstrates an authentic purpose, consumers feel a connection to the products and company. They will choose the authentically purposeful company’s products, even if it’s not the cheapest offering.
Starting and surviving in today’s economy is hard, but the companies that figure it out have something in common: the pursuit of purpose, alongside the pursuit of profit. A purpose mobilizes people in a way that pursuing profits alone never will. For a company to thrive, it needs to infuse its purpose in all that it does.
Acumen, the non-profit investment fund, has designed a recruitment process that enables it to identify potential employees who share the organization’s purpose. The organization doesn’t simply ask interested candidates to submit a résumé and cover letter; Acumen also asks candidates for responses to a series of short-essay questions that relate to the position. For instance, “How would you describe your interest in ‘impact investing’ (which is what Acumen does) versus regular private equity or venture capital investing?” Anyone who doesn’t have a good answer for that probably would do better elsewhere.
Economic value and social value are not mutually exclusive. Today’s sophisticated business leader recognizes the concept of shared value: creating economic value while addressing social needs and challenges. As Michael Porter and Mark Kramer wrote inHarvard Business Review in 2011: “Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success.”
Yanik Silver is coming out with a great book on this subject. I’ve only seen an early release, but it’s a juicy bit of inspirational strategy for building a company that you Love and improving the world at the same time.
Check it out: Evolved Enterprise
Image by Amber Rael | flickr.com