Many organisations remain unclear about their purpose. When asked, Why does your organisation exist? they answer: ‘to make money’. Money is essential, but making money is not a purpose.
Read the inspirational classic from psychiatrist Viktor Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl practiced logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (‘meaning’), asserting that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. Newer kids on the block are talking the same language. Watch Simon Sinek’s TED Talk How great leaders inspire action, by starting with Why.
A reason for existing is important to people. A reason for existing is also important for organisations. The powerful work on the exponential organisation defines a new (hugely successful) breed of organisation, “one whose impact (or output) is disproportionately large — at least 10x larger — compared to its peers because of the use of new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies”. Exponential organisations all have this in common – they embrace a Massive Transformation Purpose (MTP).
“The more we organize around massive transformative purpose, the harder we’ll work, the more dedicated we’ll be, the faster we can solve big problems—and maybe most importantly, the more fulfilled we’ll feel about the work we do.”
– Peter Diamandis, Singularity University.
Perhaps our Why’s are not more present and lived because we are not clear on them – as individuals or as organisations. How can we get more clarity?
Simon Sinek describes your ‘why’ as the reason you get up in the morning. Everyone has one and knowing it helps you to make better choices at work and at home. As Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Your personal WHY — the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires everything you do.
I also like the process traced out by Peter Diamandis of Singularity University to create your Massive Transformative Purpose.
Ask yourself the question: Who do I want to create a lasting and positive impact for? Identify the problem you want to solve by writing down 3 items that ignite something in you. Now score each item against these questions, with a rating of 1 for little difference, to 10 for a very big difference:
- At the end of your life, if you had made a significant dent in this area, how proud would you feel?
- Given the resources you have today, what level of impact could you make in the next 3 years if you solved this problem?
- Given the resources you expect to have in 10 years, what level of impact could you make in a 3-year period?
- How well do I understand the problem?
- How emotionally charged (excited or riled up) am I about this?
- Will this problem get solved with or without you involved?
Add up your scores for each item. What gets the highest score? Focus on that item.
Here are some examples of MTP’s:
Patagonia: We’re in business to save our home planet.
Virgin Galactic: “We are creating a Spaceline for Earth with the goal of democratizing access to space for the benefit of life on earth.”
X Prize Foundation: “Bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.”
TED: “Ideas worth spreading.”
Tesla: “Accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation.”
There’s a secret to motivating individuals and teams to do great things: it is purpose.
What if organisations of the future leveraged abundance, balanced with a fundamental respect for our natural systems?
Could it start with a large and more meaningful purpose in your organisation?