Purpose Driven Idea Management

A purpose driven company

I was recently listening to HBR IdeaCast podcase 639: Turning Purpose Into Performance. The podcast had an interview with Gerry Anderson, the CEO of DTE Energy, and he talked about turning around a failing organisation by giving staff purpose. It turned out the giving staff a purpose inspired them to work harder and smarter and it turned around DTE Energy.

McLeod & More wrote a comprehensive article titled “The Purpose-Driven Business” and started out by asking the question:

“Does focusing on purpose help or hurt revenue?”

My immediate response is to feel that surely this is very touchy feely and that people at work should be there to earn profit and just be good employees and do what they are told.

McLeod & More’s article goes on to say:

Purpose leadership expert Jim Stengel’s 10-year growth study determined that organizations whose purpose is to improve the lives of their customers, outperform their competition and the market as a whole.

In Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, Stengel documents how 50 of the highest-performing companies in the world harnessed the power of brand ideals to tower over their competitors. At the core of a brand ideal, is purpose. Stengel says, “Top performing brands are built on ideals, higher-order purposes that transcend products and services.”

An effective purpose statement and strategy shifts employee mindset from internal to external to customer impact. Mindset is the underpinning of behaviour.

Purpose driven Idea Management

The purpose of implementing an Idea Management solution within a company is to get employee ideas around a series of challenges presented by the company. These ideas then go through an evaluation process and the best ideas are selected that hopefully result in a new successful product, an improved process or service or ideas to improve the lives of employees.

If purpose driven companies have been proved to be more profitable than profit focused companies, then it stands to reason that Idea Management can be used to either help a company become purpose driven or to continue on the more traditional path.

Within the McLeod & More article referenced at the beginning of this article, it suggests that companies should have a Purpose Statement.

A true purpose, what we refer to as a Noble Purpose, is both aspirational and practical. For example, Flight Centre, the world’s largest travel agency claimed for their Noble Purpose: We care about delivering amazing travel experiences. We worked with their senior team to put strategies, metrics and training in place to improve their 80,000 global employees’ ability to care, deliver and produce amazing experiences for clients.

Hoffman Roche’s purpose is, “Doing now what patients need next.” Their succinct statement acts as a galvanizing force for their team around the globe. It’s a lens for strategic and daily decisions, and it’s the bedrock of their sales and marketing narrative.”

How do companies get their employees to buy into a Purpose Statement? I would like to suggest that part of the solution would be to create a challenge, or set of challenges, within an Idea Management solution that would ask employees to submit ideas on how to permeate the Purpose Statement throughout the company.

Senior leaders within a company, preferably the CEO, would then use the issuing of challenges as part of his communication strategy to the employees of the company.

The challenges issued to employees could therefore include:

  • Sales: Suggest ways in which we can increase the value of our products and services to our customers?

  • Marketing: How can we show customers how their lives will be positively influenced by doing business with us?

  • Leadership: How can we deliver better results to our customers?

  • Customer service: How can we help our customers to be successful?

  • Operations: How can we improve our clients’ businesses and lives?

Lack of purpose erodes morale

The McLeod & More article states:

Lack of purpose erodes morale, decreases productivity, and increases turnover. Conversely, Schwartz and Porath discovered, “Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work” (Porath & Schwartz, 2014).

Purpose drives engagement, which increases retention. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, says, “Companies that understand the increasing emphasis of purpose in today’s professional landscape improve their ability to attract such employees and also their ability to retain them for longer periods of time.”

Building purpose

Idea Management can be used to create new products, improve operations, improve employee engagement AND, perhaps most importantly of all, it can help to build a sense of purpose for employees within a company.

As always I would value your comments. Is your company a purpose driven company?

“Introduction to Idea Management” eBook

I recently published an eBook that is available on Amazon. If you would like to get an introduction to Idea Management, then this eBook is for you. It consists of short easy to read chapters covering every element of Idea Management. If you would like a deeper understanding of any topic then at least three links at the end of each chapter are provided for further reading.

You can find a link to the book here

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