In the past weeks I have spoken to hundreds of people on the topic of meaningful business during public lectures, and I’ve learned a lot from the conversations. Here are three new insights I’d like to share with you; it is my hope you will let them enrich you in the search for a more beautiful way of doing business.
First of all, there is a (very) strong case for having a purpose in organisations. We have taken the liberty to summarise the best research for you in our open inspirational deck ‘Purpose: the Business Case’. You can find it here. Critical insights for those without time: although ~90% of executives believe that having a clear purpose is relevant for pretty much the entire business and past revenue numbers corroborate their beliefs, just ~4 out of 10 companies report having a clear purpose (and to be honest, we still doubt if that is actually true – the research was based on self reporting by executives).
Second, innovation is considered by many to be a purposeful activity, and rightly so. William Nordhaus, from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) estimates that for every euro innovators earn through their innovation, the societal impact (earnings/future earnings/benefits) are closer to 50 euros. This highlights the relevance of entrepreneurs, especially those that are willing to share their thinking with the world.
Third, there are many pragmatic ways to install more purpose in the way we work – and there are some awesome people involved in it. There is the purpose-to-impact thinking Nick Craig and Scott Snook, there is the effective altruism movement where William MacAskill writes about, and there are many companies quantifying the best way to ‘do good’, like GiveWell. Also, there are clear criteria to select the best possible ‘purpose’ for organisations (see the visual below), which we can quite easily assess in a ‘purpose fit’ questionnaire.. At the same time, we’re in a process to quantify the ‘societal impact’ of organisations on a larger scale, and we’re developing a 10-step approach to transform regular organisations into Purpose+Profit organisations. Huge steps, but definitely with a great amount of impact if we succeed.
Let me end this post with some additional inspiration that someone sent me this week,