Author: Alan Todd|August 22, 2019

Becoming a Purpose Driven Organization

Book Review: The Economics of Higher Purpose, by Bob Quin and Anjan Thakor

The concept of a purpose-driven leader or a purpose-driven organization is not new.  But how to do it successfully has been elusive. This book presents a compelling economic argument for WHY you should become a purpose-driven organization NOW, and illustrates HOW to succeed through a clear step-by-step roadmap.
The Economics of Higher Purpose, by Bob Quin and Anjan Thakor
Bob Quinn and Anjan Thakor teach you how to build a rock-solid business case for beginning the purpose journey at your organization. This is possibly the most critical step because selling the idea to your executive team and peers is often the hardest part.

Specifically, they provide the foundational research that proves the connection between Organizational Purpose and business financial performance.  Simply put, organizations that take this journey consistently outperform those who do not.  Anjan is a renowned economist, and his research and findings on the economics of higher purpose are compelling.  With facts and data from this book, you can easily build a convincing case to get consensus with your leaders to pursue the purpose journey at your organization.

You will learn why typical CEOs don’t believe in a higher organizational purpose beyond “create shareholder value” through the story of DTE Energy.  They demonstrate how DTE’s CEO, Gerry Anderson changed his mind and began a purpose journey that resulted in tripling the value of the company and being named to Gallup’s great workplaces list for 5 years in a row.

After you understand the economics and business case through stories and research, the authors switch gears to provide you a roadmap to follow to infuse purpose into your culture.  This is where Bob, a giant in the field of positive organizational psychology and leadership comes through.

Each of the steps is clearly explained, making it easy for you to map out your plan.  The steps cover everything from how to discover your purpose, inspire your workforce, communicate authentically, mobile energizers, and more.  By following these steps, like others who have gone before you, the authors demonstrate how to create measurable value while positively changing people’s lives.

In summary, you cannot read this book without being wholly inspired to discover or rediscover your organization’s purpose.  The roadmap walks you through a step-by-step approach that will transform your life and the lives of many in your organization.  That’s what happened for me.

You will finish this book prepared and motivated to lead a transformation at your organization.  Bob and Anjan have created something really special.

The Quinn/Thakor 8-Step Model:

  1. Envision an inspired workforce – treat employees like human beings, not agents of labor.
  2. Discover the purpose – you don’t invent it, it already exists.  You discover it through empathy – by feeling and understanding the deepest common needs of your workforce.  Ask questions, listen, reflect.
  3. Recognize the need for authenticity – even leaders who don’t believe in the power of purpose face pressure from board members, investors, employees, and other stakeholders to articulate a higher purpose.  When the purpose and values don’t govern the behavior of senior leadership, they ring hollow.  If the purpose is authentic, people know, because it drives every decision and your organization will begin to do things others won’t.
  4. Turn your authentic message into a constant message – you’re never done.  Keep clarifying the message for as long as you’re a leader.  The purpose must sink into the collective conscience.
  5. Stimulate individual learning – employees actually want to think, learn, and grow.  By asking them to reflect on the organization’s purpose and connect it to their own professional purpose, they become more adaptive and proactive.  Energies rise.
  6. Turn midlevel managers into purpose-driven leaders – they must know it and deeply connect with it and lead with moral power.  This is way beyond what most companies ask of midlevel people.
  7. Connect the people to the purpose – they tell a great story of how KPMG  did this and they climbed 31 places to number 12 on Fortune Best companies to work for list, making it the highest ranked of the big four consulting firms.  Recruiting improved, turnover decreased, costs dropped.
  8. Unleash the positive energizers – every organization has a pool of change agents that go untapped.  Spread throughout your company are mature, purpose-driven people with an optimistic orientation that naturally inspires others.  They’re open and willing to take initiative.  They’re easy to identify and others trust them.  This is an amazing resource going completely unrecognized and underutilized.

If you’ve been searching for a way to motivate yourself, pump new energy into a team or invigorate an entire organization, start by reading this book and do what it prescribes to discover your purpose and live a purpose-filled life.