People need Purpose

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Simon Sinek, former anthropologist and author of “Start with Why” is possibly best known for his“Golden Circle” presentation at TedX in 2009.  This is another one of his recent talks given in New York at a Creative Mornings monthly meeting.  I’ve just come across the latter, and am looking forward to exploring their talks on Vimeo.  They seem to have quite a movement going worldwide, so the range of speakers promises to be varied.

In this talk he tackles what companies can learn from the US Marines in terms of building strong mutually supportive cultures.  His ideal is to contribute towards a future where the majority of people in the world wake up in the morning and want to go to work, and are fulfilled with the work that they do.

 

 

He is one of a growing number of influencers who have recognised that we are on the cusp of major cultural, political and societal changes, which is seeing both people and organizations re-examiningand realigning our priorities. The likes of P&G, Unilever or GE, are each all pursuing strategies founded on delivering social good as well as profit. (Read, “Who Cares Wins” by David Jones) 

The “Occupy’ movement is but one example of an initiative that is calling into question the validity of a raw capitalist perspective that has got us in the situation in which we now find ourselves.  And the really interesting thing is that that is all it is doing – asking us to question “is this right? “There are no demands, no agenda – they don’t want anything, and that’s why the establishment doesn’t know how to respond.

In this talk Simon asks to think about the impact of companies when they lose their sense of caring for their staff – where customers and clients are seen as more “valuable” than employees.  He argues that those people who do not feel connected to and a part of the business in which they work are more unhappy, more likely to just be going through the motions, less likely to be team players (and hence more lonely) – and overall more likely to get sick.

This is not a talk about lowering absenteeism.  It focuses on the difference that having a sense of purpose can make to organizations and their people. How, when fulfilled employees are more committed, more effective and happier; all of which leads to a more successful and profitable company.  (Is Zappos a real world example of this?) 

This seems to fit with David Jones observations.  He argues that companies cannot merely develop a social business idea.  They have to be transparent and authentic and be seen to live the idea on a daily basis through their people.  Further he says that a “Social Business Idea” needs to be the rallying call for the entire company, embracing both internal and external stakeholders.

People like Sinek and Jones are, I believe, are not merely theorizing about, so-called, better ways to do business.  They are detecting and amplifying a radical change in the way we are beginning to think about business and its impact on society. CSR in all its guises can no longer be a tick box element of a company’s public profile or marketing.  It is being moved centre stage, and to use an Americanism “we’ve all got skin in the game”.

As John Schwartz, CEO of Timberland, and famous for how he treats his employees, puts it “the power of transformation isn’t in somebody else’s hands, its in ours”.

How and where will you use yours?

 

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