Many organisations remain unclear about what they are really trying to achieve on this here planet we call our home. When asked, Why does your organisation exist? they answer thus: ‘to make money’. Because to them, money is the most important thing. It is what they measure and what they prize above all else, especially above people. They talk about resources, scale, competition and maximising profits. Will these organisations survive so long into the future?
Making money is essential, but it 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. So this post provides a few ways we can get more clarity.
For individuals, you can take a WHY Discovery Course online from Simon Sinek. Your why is 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. In the interactive course, you discover and articulate your personal WHY — the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires everything you do. As Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
I also like the process traced out by Peter Diamandis of Singularity University to create your Massive Transformative Purpose.
Creating your MTP
You can create your MTP by asking yourself the question: Who do I want to create a lasting and positive impact for? Next you identify the problem you want to solve. You can do this by writing down 3 items that get you really fired up. 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 to inspire you:
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.”
Google: “Organize the world’s information.”
Tesla: “Accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation.”
There’s a secret to motivating individuals and teams to do great things: It’s purpose.
My hope for all organisations of the future is that they leverage abundance, having rediscovered a respect for humans and our natural systems, that they value what it is uniquely human and liberate it. Meaningful and lasting impact through innovation comes from having the freedom to create. The real shift happening, is from competing and controlling, to creating and liberating. And a larger purpose will direct it all.
Gaylin Jee is Founder of 33 Emeralds, and Co-founder of Sync the Future. She pushes comfort zones with new and sometimes radical thinking and practical tools, so that we can empower our collective futures.