Do you know why you’re here?
The question of purpose — the need to connect the why to the what and how — is the essence what it means to exist. It’s the question of insatiably curious 4-year olds. It’s the question young adults seek to answer when traditional education falls short. It’s the question on the minds of the Millennial workforce, today’s consumers, and discerning shareholders when considering whether to work for, buy from, or invest in your company. 21st century America is heading toward a tipping point. The answer to the question of why organizations exist can no longer be simply to make a profit.
Consider these trends behind this tipping point:
- 86% of Millennials in a 2011 study by Forbes reported that they believe businesses can have a positive social impact on the world, and they are optimistic about playing a role in that change.
- 83% of U.S. consumers want more of the products and services they use to benefit causes.
- 20% of shareholder-sponsored proposals of U.S. public companies focus on environmental and social concerns.
The case for defining and living your organizational purpose has never been more compelling. It’s the glue that will hold you fast in a world of constant technological, social, and economic change. It’s about being clear about your inner compass – about what should not change – so you can be liberated to challenge assumptions, test new theories, and remain relevant.
Traditional business based on the factory model is dying. The factory model dictates that products or services are cranked out with measurable output for as little cost as possible. Factories can be duplicated, even outsourced. Factories are filled with bureaucracy and clock watchers. Successful organizations of the 21st century will thrive with engaged people driven by the knowledge that their collective effort has intrinsic meaning.
And therein lies our leadership challenge. To connect our organizations with a purpose that rises above the bottom line. To weave that purpose into the organizational DNA so that it becomes part of everything from the strategic plan to employee incentives and rewards.
People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Creating meaningful impact beyond financial performance isn’t a nice-to-have—it’s a business imperative.
You’ve heard TED, but have you heard SUE?! I’ll be one of the inaugural SUE Talks Presenters on October 21st on this topic: Work On Purpose: How to Connect Who You Are With What You Do. Hope you’ll join me for the launch of SUE Talks! www.suetalks.com
Question: Do you know your company’s why?