Purpose & Profit: Can They Co-Exist?

Runa Bouius
Runa is an accomplished serial entrepreneur from Iceland and a Conscious Leadership catalyst. As a speaker, author, facilitator, mentor, and advisor to startup founders/entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, investors, and other business leaders she is on the vanguard of the new business paradigm thinking, the creation of better workplaces, and growing extraordinary leaders. Runa is an associate at the international leadership training & coaching company Influens, Inc., sits on a number of advisory boards, and is a contributor at the People Development Magazine. In addition to Runa’s companies in Reykjavik, Iceland, she co-founded the Conscious Leader Network, the Conscious Capitalism LA Chapter, and the TOGETHER! Network.
Runa Bouius

@RunaBouius

Inspirational Speaker - Catalyzing Conscious Leadership in Action
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Runa Bouius
Runa Bouius

This was the title of the recent Conscious Capitalism LA Chapter (CCLA) live event on March 26, 2015 at the ROC in Santa Monica. CCLA is one of the growing number of chapters popping up all over the globe from the Conscious Capitalism Movement. From New York to Chicago to the Bay Area, San Diego, Dallas, Cleveland, and DC. The list goes on of cities in the US that are actively building CC Communities through their chapters. And then there are the global chapters in the UK, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia. As I write this, the CC 2015 Conference in Chicago, April 7-9, is just over. If last year’s experience of CC 2014 in San Diego is anything to go by, we can expect to see many more CC Chapters being formed in the coming months and years, continuing the conversation around bringing heart, meaning, and social impact to the way we do business.

 

Emergence of a New Business Model

Back to Purpose & Profit. Why this title? Because this is a topic that is truly relevant to our times and is also the key to shifting our mindsets from the traditional business model that focuses solely on maximizing shareholders’ value. Milton Friedman’s famous mantra from 1970, “The business of business is business” is now being debunked and will with time, I predict, be replaced by the more expanded and conscious version of a business model that is based on a Higher Purpose and which integrates a win/win Stakeholder Orientation for all the members of the ecosystem of a particular business or enterprise. These are two of the four principles (often called the Four Pillars) that are the cornerstones of the Conscious Capitalism philosophy. The other two are Conscious Leadership and Conscious Culture. In a recent interview with Daniel Roth, the Executive Editor at LinkedIn, the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, talks about that a business today needs to have a social impact through its core purpose to balance the profit focus.

Got_PURPOSE_CCLA

 

CCLA Event: Purpose & Profit: Can They Co-Exist?

As the topic of Purpose & Profit is clearly on people’s minds, they want to educate themselves on what it means. Bringing the focus back to Los Angeles, we on the CCLA team had a unique opportunity to bring to our community members an insiders-peek into an established and successful global organization with headquarters in LA, that is looking at profit in a very different way since starting an inquiry about their company’s Higher Purpose.

Our CCLA co-founding member, Kent Frazier, joined Lieberman Research Worldwide (LRW) in January of 2014. During his first meeting with the CEO of the company, Dave Sackman, Kent initiated a dialogue that has now lasted over a year. He asked his new CEO this simple, yet provoking question: “What is the Higher Purpose of this company?” Kent, being a practicing Conscious Leader, wanted to know what kind of situation he had gotten himself into by accepting this job. During the CCLA live event they shared with the audience how this conversation has evolved and where it has taken them, both personally and company-wide. It is an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by business leaders who are asking new questions, doing experiments, and testing these principles. Do they work? And if so, how? What have they learned in the process? What can leaders who want to embark on this quest expect? The whole CCLA program with Kent and Dave can be watched through a WebEx recording.

Play recording

Dave_Kent_Audience_CCLA

 

Employees Are Looking For Purpose Driven Businesses

Kent and Dave’s conversation has prompted a lively discussion since the event around the topic of Higher Purpose in organizations throughout our LA community. One of the CCLA community members, Kara Looney, wrote an inspiring piece on her experience of the event and how it reflected her search for meaning in her own professional life. Her article is called “Combining Purpose with Profit,” Kara is a great representative of so many employees all over the globe who have started their search for meaning and fulfillment, not only in their personal lives, but also in their professional lives as well.

For those who want to get insights from different angles, here is another timely article by Ed Zitron in Inc. called Why Businesses That Are Purpose-Driven Come Out on Top.

 

What Comes First?

One of the conversations I have had recently around this topic was with a business executive friend of mine. He is presently working with a company that brought him in to overhaul and restructure the business. We discussed the purpose question and if and when to bring it up to the company’s founder and CEO, who has been running his business by the Friedman formula and is interested only in the bottom line, like so many traditional businesses. Obviously it isn’t working — otherwise, there would be no need for an overhaul. I felt that looking at the Higher Purpose of the business needs to be the first question explored. My friend claimed that the founder and CEO wasn’t ready for that exploration yet, that some other things needed to be done first. That set me thinking.

Is an overhaul and restructuring going to be profitable as well as sustainable if the issue of the Higher Purpose of the company isn’t explored? A recent Gallup research is showing us that more and more employees are disengaged and disillusioned in their jobs. Only 26-30% of the North American workforce is engaged and a dismal 6-12% is Southern Asia. Loyalty for one company is in the past now. Employees are looking for more fulfilling jobs now, not only for the paycheck and some perks. This is especially true for the Millennials. They are looking for jobs in which their gifts and talents are being recognized and utilized, as well as in which they are given opportunities to add to those skills. They are looking for jobs that offer them a learning environment, not only for professional skills but also for self-development. They are looking for jobs where they are being mentored to be inspirational leaders themselves. They are looking for jobs where they are working with like-minded and spirited people who genuinely collaborate and co-create. They are looking for jobs where they have flexible working hours. They are looking for jobs where their personal values align with the company’s values and the values of their leaders. They are looking for jobs where they feel they can respect their leaders and feel safe. And most importantly, they are looking for jobs within a company culture where they can be a part of something that is much bigger than themselves. They want to be on a team where the social impact of their work is being felt widely, as it solves people’s problems and creates more health and happiness, and also has a healing effect on the planet. The triple bottom line – People, Planet, Profit. Look at this article, “The Real Perks That Attract and Retain Millennials.”

Why is this important for leaders (like my friend’s CEO, above) when looking to restructure their businesses? Because to attract and to retain the best, most skillful, creative, and innovative talent, they need to provide a clear Higher Purpose that everyone in the organization can claim as their collective vision of success — not a vision that is placed on a plaque on the office wall with good intentions and then simply forgotten, but a vision that is integrated into every fiber and action of the organization. It is the vision, the proverbial North Star, which is lived by everyone and guides the company toward manifesting its Higher Purpose.

When did you last review and renew your Higher Purpose, personally and professionally? Is there time for an overhaul of your business model of yourself and that of your business? I promise you, it is a worthy exploration. There isn’t time not to!

 

Image credits:

Artwork courtesy of Facilitation Graphics by Greg T. Whicker

Event photos courtesy of Yasmin Allshav Photographer

Profit Image courtesy of CCLA

6 Comments

  • Jane says:

    I wish I could memorize this information. I was attracted to the article because of the word Purpose. Not an hour goes by that I don’t hear someone talk about their purpose or an organization’s purpose. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and also including links to learn more. I had not seen this new business model explained so well until now. Conscious Captialism.

    • Runa Bouius says:

      Jane. I am glad that the article was helpful to you. We are all learning and learning together and co-creating our new reality. What kind of workplaces do we want to create? What kind of life do we want to create for ourselves? It is all moving, changing, transforming, and evolving as we speak. The Conscious Capitalism model is one definition of many. I like to use it as a foundational piece as it touches on all the areas that I find important to look at when we think of a new way of being in life and at work.

  • Thank you, Runa, for this great article. It’s good to see that more and more people are gathering around Conscious Capitalism / Conscious Business principles. We see so many people yearning for this information!

  • Runa Bouius says:

    You are so right Peter, consciously and unconsciously people are yearning for a wider perspective of life, work, and living. No question! Thanks for your comments Peter.

  • David Utts says:

    Runa – nice article and it pin points the transition we seem to be in. We are facing the pain that has been generated from seeing business as a kind of money manufacturing mill. Those that got the benefits used those that were “mill workers”. Even those who have made out are facing increasing stress and burn out. Conscious Capitalism does provide a kinder and softer way and potentially a way to an elevated form of business. The story you pointed to where the CEO is not ready to look towards a more integrated focus is classic. The shift that needs to happen will occur as consciousness is elevated. Certainly Conscious Capitalism is doing its part to help in this process. And what is that going to take? More and more business leaders awakening to truly who they are! This is the secret really. If that CEO who resisted the conversation about purpose would realize who he REALLY IS… the question about how to run his company would be answered and profit would no longer be a concern. That’s a lot to ask and it may require external events to continue to deteriorate in order for such leaders to wake up.

    • Runa Bouius says:

      Hi David. Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, finding out who we are, what we are, and why are we here is really the underlying secret. The rest will follow by itself in a totally natural way as we accept life to “do us” into “being”.

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