..The growing demand for a fairer, more caring form of capitalism has also given rise to a related phenomenon: the emergence of the purpose-driven consultant.
Over recent years, a cottage industry of advisory firms has sprung up, all promising to help companies on this “journey” (a favourite phrase) towards a more purposeful, less profit-centric model of business.
In the spirit of business-as-unusual, their approach is refreshingly unorthodox. “Bold”, “heartfelt” and “emotionally involved” are among the defining characteristics..
Count me in as one of those “purpose-driven consultants” supporting brave leaders on that transformative journey to putting purpose ahead of profit.
The opening paragraph of my home page reads (note bold type at the end):
Command-and-control leadership is losing its grip. A new way is emerging: #OpenLeadership, embracing change as constant, encouraging individual thought, relying on intuition more than data, fluidity more than hierarchy, trust more than fear, and putting the common good ahead of profit.
Oh, and as I constantly say, by putting Purpose+People+Planet first, so many businesses show again and again that this leads to Profit, but as an outcome, not as the primary focus.
So, glad to see this movement building momentum, with this latest article in The Guardian (see link by the quote from Oliver’s article) a recent example reporting on this.
One caveat. Beware of what I have termed “Purpose-washing”, there is much “box-ticking” going on, as there is with ESG/CSR/SDG focus already.
Taking the Business Roundtable statement quoted in the article, I’m skeptical about their motives, boxes feel like they are being ticked right now.
So, if you are truly drawn towards a new way of leading, let’s talk. I’ll listen, then I’ll call it as I see it. If you are truly up for this, I’ll be with you every step. If you are not, I’ll tell you that is what I see. Perhaps call it a “Purpose Check”.
My clients say I “see what others don’t see”. Experience for yourself, book your 30-minute call now.
There is wisdom in a minute of intensely focused contemplation.
Today sharing a post from Ed Duggar, a wise human I had the good fortune of meeting last year through “mi hermana”, Rosie von Lila as we all came together in NYC to support one of her “What Comes Now” live events
Ed is deeply passionate about taking his experience and skills in the field of investment capital and demonstrating (as he has, repeatedly, throughout his career) that one can invest capital to scale businesses, gain excellent returns AND address key challenging social and environmental issues AND addressing structural biases that radically limit access to such capital to women, people of colour and other less represented groups.
He and his business partner Julianne Zimmerman follow this purpose and passion through their business, Reinventure Capital. As part of this, they write regular blog posts, and today am sharing a recent post from Ed on “The Wisdom Within a Minute”. To cut to the “punchline” of the story that follows, Ed asks and answers a powerful question:
..if only given a tiny little minute — didn’t choose it, had to use it, must give account if I abused it — but that minute had an eternity of ripple effects within it, what would my decision be?
Perhaps the best answer is the one we knew was right to begin with, when free of considerations of lost favor or personal retribution. Powerful decisions full of values we believe in, that stand the test of the time we live in.
Whilst Bravery and Brevity are key, without a strong link to Purpose that everyone in the organisation feels strongly connected to for the long term, all Strategic Plans will lose momentum.
Over the years I have been introduced to many leaders and organisations who have either brought in consultants to help them develop their strategic plan or have done it themselves using an established format. What they have in common is that their (usually long and detailed) Strategic Plan literally and figuratively “sits on the shelf”. They’ve felt frustrated that after all the work done to produce and launch it, people have disengaged and, as a result, it “sits on the shelf”, gathering dust, potential unrealised.
They then talk to a peer or other trusted contact who knows and has worked with me, and that person tells them I can help them unlock that potential. In filling this niche, I’ll highlight three things:
Bravery – often the missing link
Brevity – getting the essence of their strategy down to “one page”
Purpose – Strategy must link to Vision and, critically, to Purpose.
Of these, whilst Bravery and Brevity are key, without a strong link to Purpose that everyone in the organisation feels strongly connected to for the long term, all Strategic Plans will lose momentum.
In January this year, I wrote a series of articles around rethinking the purpose of the corporation, then moved towards rethinking the “triple bottom line” (that dates from 1994) to the “new triple bottom line”, expressed graphically above. The article that captures that and links to my earlier posts is:
“..the objective of economic policy should be collective well-being: how happy and healthy a population is, not just how wealthy a population is.”
~ Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, TED Summit, Edinburgh, July 2019
As UK government and politics, in general, continue to flail along with no clear sense of direction or what success would look like, earlier this week, on the day that the new Prime Minister chose to visit Scotland, a TED Talk that was given last week by the First Minister of Scotland was released. What a stark contrast in leadership it offered and in what two countries (the UK overall and Scotland separately) seek to measure.
Long-time readers will note that in amongst the shorter and often more eclectic daily posts I intersperse longer and deeper reads, often around Economics and, more specifically the future of both Economics and Capitalism in service of the broader society.
So, today share the video and transcript of Ms Sturgeon’s powerful talk, then connect that to some earlier posts and thoughts of my own on what we measure.
A spiral of openness and trust spiral, where both elements feed each other to higher and higher heights.
Trust is at the core of all relationships.
My underlying theme on this site I call #OpenLeadership, as being Open is at the heart of what I see as the new paradigm of Leadership, one of four core attributes detailed on the #BeMoreYou page.
I also love “Virtuous Circles”, my favourite being the one below from Gaping Void and that was the first of many framed prints from Hugh McLeod that filled the walls of our business in Cayman.
So, I love the image above of an Openness and Trust spiral, as a virtuous circle is really a 2D representation of a 3D upwards spiral, where both elements feed each other to higher and higher heights. Trust builds Openness, which builds more Trust, which builds even further Openness etc.
I close with another virtuous circle, that of the “Scale for Impact” model, or “new triple bottom line” where Purpose+People+Planet leads to Profit, which can then be reinvested for Scale to create ever more Impact through that focus on Purpose+People+Planet and so on.
Helping organizations become purposeful companies through leadership, story and culture
What’s the ROI of Purpose? 6 Steps to Take Toward Better Business: Why Purposeful Companies Create Value for All They Serve #BtheChange via @ConsciousCoMag — B Corporation (@BCorporation) June 8, 2019
The universe of people committed to helping leaders lead from Purpose is still a relatively small one, so I loved that I came across this tweet from B Corporation, then when I clicked through, it was by Laurie Bennett of Within People, who I came across at the Meaning Conference last year, having known two of the partners in his business for some time.
In my work I typically support leaders 1:1, with this regularly involving extending this to their teams. As with Within People, we both work with leaders around people, culture, stories, engagement and more. In short, love their work!
In that latter post, I promised that today I’d curate an article by Laurie Bennett, so here it is, chockful of links to real-world examples of businesses that put Purpose first, with Profit not as a driver but an outcome that then allows them to scale their impact.
Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Capital has a personal net worth reported to be over $18bn, sourced from his hugely lucrative hedge fund business.
When he wrote a 7,500-word opinion piece this month called “Why (and how) capitalism needs to be reformed”, this created a stir for sure. I don’t agree with all of his points, but I find it powerful that someone who has made billions from capitalism will now speak so clearly about how the entire system needs reform.
With approaching 600 daily articles on this site, themes keep repeating, plus there is always an element of curation of ideas, sometimes simply sharing something I’ve read from others with minimal added opinions of my own.
Two points only from me today before sharing Ray Dalio’s article:
Narrative is key to making your point. As I was taught long ago: “never make a point without telling a story”. Ray Dalio makes his key points in the first four paragraphs of his article, as not everyone will read 7,500 words. He also begins right away with a story. For more, read “There I stood on the burning deck“.
Oh, and Ray Dalio also created the wonderful “How the Economic Machine works”. If you’d like to get a distilled understanding of Economics, watch this 31 minute video. (more…)
That article puts forward that it is time for a new triple bottom line, one that creates:
“a “Righteous Flywheel”, where the unerring focus on Purpose+People+Planet as drivers allows the corporation to make Profits, which mean it can then focus more on Purpose+People+Planet and so make more Profit, and so on in a “virtuous circle”.”
It also links to three further articles, each with a case study of a company of scale that has lived this and proven that it creates the righteous flywheel.
At the time of writing, I noted that I’d love to create a graphic to represent this. Well, with the creative skills of Martha Rowe (who has done all the graphic and web design for me for some time), now we have one here. Thank you Martha!
Put as a formula:
Purpose + People + Planet = Profit
However, the formula looks like an endgame of profit, whereas the flywheel graphic highlights that it is a cycle.
I’d love to talk to you about this, and to get more examples of companies operating in this way!