Can Purpose and Profit Truly Co-exist?

Can Purpose and Profit Co-exist - People Development Network
Can Purpose and Profit Co-exist - People Development Network

This was the title of a Conscious Capitalism LA Chapter (CCLA) live event  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. It’s not surprising the topic of purpose and profit is on the agenda.

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.

We can expect to see many more CC Chapters being formed in the coming months and years.  These chapters are continuing the conversation around bringing heart, meaning, and social impact to the way we do business.

The 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. It 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.

Purpose and profit

CCLA Event: Purpose and 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.

Evolving conversations

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

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. He 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.

The search for fulfilling jobs

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. 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. 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. Roles where their personal values align with the company’s values and the values of their leaders. 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. Where it solves people’s problems and creates more health and happiness. It 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.”

A higher purpose

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. A 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. 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. A vision that 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

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Rúna Bouius
Rúna Bouius is a former CEO and entrepreneur from Iceland and the founder of the True Power Institute. As a speaker, author, executive coach, and consultant to visionary leaders, entrepreneurs, and people of influence, she is on the vanguard of the new-business-paradigm thinking, the creation of better workplaces, and developing the emerging leaders. Rúna is a co-author of the bestselling book, “The Successful Mind,” a contributing author to a number of other books and publishing platforms, and sits on advisory boards. She is a co-founder of several social-impact platforms in Los Angeles, including the Conscious Capitalism LA Chapter. Rúna works with the Coventina Foundation, supporting a regenerating economy and building a new internet through the Holochain ecosystem.Rúna specializes in the emerging leadership trends and evolving leaders' relationships to power — TRUE Power!
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  • 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.

  • 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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