A single thought creates your universe. Now what then do you want your thoughts to be? A question that not only applies to each one of us personally, but for our organisations as well.
Fading boundaries profit vs. non-profit
In the earlier days, the division of roles between government, free-markets and NGO’s used to be easy. Governments would take care of rules, regulations and equal division of wealth and traditional businesses in the free-market would provide material and financial welfare and progress. Non-profit organisations then could take care of any void that hadn’t been filled, whether this would be social, educational, cultural, health, just to name a few
Now it seems that the boundary between traditional businesses and non-profit is slowly fading. I foresee that within a couple of decades there will be no difference between the two anymore.
On the one hand, non-profit organisations will have to increasingly rely on revenue generating business concepts to secure their continuity. After all, subsidies are being cut worldwide as a result of major budget deficits. On the other hand, businesses with a pure financial drive will undergo a transition towards a sustainable business model rooted in an idealistic drive.
Purity of intent
They will have to anyways, as people increasingly want to support businesses and movements that have a higher purpose than sole financial profit. This higher purpose is locked down somewhere in every company: after all (nearly) every company started out by a person that had a vision on how to contribute to our society.
Let me take my own business as an example: I’m in the business of expanding consciousness in business with the intent of changing the world to evolve around giving. After I had found my higher purpose and had the courage to live up to this dream with the purest of intent, the energy started flowing freely and amazing things have happened ever since, as I’ve described in this previous blogpost.
The people and organisations that tend to identify with my dream miraculously seem to cross my path. It even feels strange talking about ‘my business’ here, as it feels more of a life purpose. So logically, any financial profit or surplus would automatically go directly into that same purpose again.
The quest for meaning
Traditional quantitative analyses used in defining business strategies will be unable to provide an answer to this question of purpose. In my professional life, I’ve seen many financial forecasts and market segmentation studies upon which board executives founded their strategic decision-making. The search for purpose is a journey into the inner depths of our souls. How are we ever to find our purpose by means of a calculator?
Too often, however, I came across quantitative missions (becoming market leader, revenue growth of x% in a certain year, operational excellent company) and saw how little this kind of quantitative one-dimensionality contributed to the overall happiness of people.
An inward journey
Research within the field of positive psychology shows that knowing where your strengths lie and using those strengths for something bigger than yourself (i.e. contributing to society at large) structurally adds to life satisfaction & happiness.
In our current timeframe, the single most important challenge for companies is that inward journey towards finding their own purpose. Whereas often the analogy is made between managing a company and orchestrating an orchestra, this time the preluding question will be: what piece of music will we be playing and with what intent?