Purpose as your compass
Over the last few years, I have been speaking to a lot of companies about the latest business thinking. Helping them to create a map for the future. Because without a map, you do not know where you are going. And the purpose of the company is the compass.
In those talks, I make reference to a number of VUCA guru’s such as Ray Kurzweil, Steven Kotler, Nassim, Taleb, Chris Anderson, Peter Hinssen, Brett King, Brian Solis, Richard Watson and many others.
Covering subjects such as robotics, artificial intelligence, longevity, data, cybersecurity, ICT, neuroscience, 3D printing, quantum computing, gaming, UX, innovation, social media, strategy, organisational design, serendipity and whatever else pops up as a topic for conversation.
The overview is followed by giving the company the lens through which to look at the map. It is a big map. A map that is constantly shifting because of the exponential element in all of the developments that have an impact on your business. Because genetics, nano, quantum, digital, augmentation, material science, material science, electronics, data, AI, health, IoT, VR, gaming, biology are now nearly interchangeable as Lego blocks. It is Lego on steroids.
The lens is build up by seven frames. Vision, passion, mission, positioning, values, resourcing and if you read “Aligning sales with strategy” you should include sales. What is inside the frame is relevant. What is outside the frame is not. Because strategy is more about what you are not. Creating the filter that allows you to simplify the business landscape and see the world through the relevant prism.
You do need to watch out for the filter bubble, and you do need to introduce a serendipitous element to that lens/filter/prism. However, if you do that as a company, you will be ahead of your competitors. It will allow you to pick a spot on the spectrum of inevitable change.
Purpose is the only thing that counts
Here is the kicker. The more I write and speak about technology and future trends, the less that seems to matter. Because there is only one thing that really seems to make the difference. Purpose. The “Start with why” by Simon Sinek. The transformative purpose from “Exponential organisations”. Companies without purpose will not thrive, grow or scale. I think it is a response to Trump. The perfect lightning rod to galvanise people and companies to create a positive counterweight. Robots do not have a purpose. AI has no purpose. Augmentation, virtual reality, material science, genetics, biomimicry, social media, 3D printing, nanotechnology, quantum computing, IOT and sensors can only be the means to a purpose. Without purpose, you will not be able to attract the talent and the community of clients you need to grow. Without purpose staff will not engage (and at the moment over 70% of staff is not), making non-purpose companies considerably more unproductive. You will not unleash the innovation and creativity you need. Once you defined a transformative purpose, organisational design, HRM, marketing, social media, storytelling, strategy, innovation and selling become a lot easier.
How transformative are you as a business? If you need help defining that you might want to pick up “Evolved Enterprise” by Yanik Silver. A book that is full of exercises, models, examples of those type of companies.
A book that will help you create firms of endearment. If you feel you are truly on a mission in your heart and your spirit, you can tap into something that’s much greater than just building a successful business for monetary reasons. Businesses that reflect your true essence and your true calling of who you really are. Making sure the mission of the business is what you want to accomplish in your life. As an expression of artistry and love. Authenticity. Being exceptionally different. Creating astonishment architecture. With a vision for a bigger future. Creating a culture of joy. Would you like to work for a company like that? Do you think your staff will be engaged? Do you think that the company will be more productive? More competitive? Do you think customers will like it?
The business case
Which brings me to the business case:
- From 1998 up to 2013, the cumulative returns of Evolved Enterprise eclipsed the S&P500 by 1400%. That is a 14 to 1 difference
- The largest segment of the economy, millennials, represent $2.45 trillion in spending power is 60% more likely to engage with brands that discuss and act on social causes.
- 70% of people consider social and environmental impact when deciding where to work.
If you do not believe me, ask Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever. The socially responsible brands accounted for half of the Unilever’s growth in 2014 at twice the rate of the rest of the business. To quote Forbes. Businesses that ignore this will be on life support in 4-7 years.
Business as catalysts for impact
Entrepreneurship and business for impact. Why? Governments are too slow. Entrepreneurs and business are our world’s catalysts. Individually, we drive growth, value creation, and innovation. Collectively, I believe 21st-century entrepreneurs and businesses have the greatest leverage available to impact the globe.