How to Change Towards a Higher Organizational Purpose

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How to Change Towards a Higher Organizational Purpose
Jaap de Jonge, Editor
In the past, quite a lot of senior executives, especially those with an Anglo-American business education background, had an economic view of the purpose of any firm. They believed that creating long-term value for the shareholders is the (only) thing that matters. They typically viewed employees as self-interested agents who needed to be controlled by strict, hierarchical processes and procedures.
Other people thought that perhaps a stakeholder value orientation was better. In such perspective, companies are seen as networks of parties and people working together towards a shared goal and not merely as 'economic machines'. In any stakeholder value approach, employees are a dominant or even strategic stakeholder, along with the shareholders.

Following the arrival of the internet and fast-changing network economy, hierarchical organizations are no longer 'en vogue', and organizational commitment (also called employee engagement) is more important than ever. Quinn and Thakor (2018) make a case that only highly motivated and engaged knowledge workers can bring the high levels of innovativeness that are required in today's ultra-competitive world. They recommend companies to adopt an authentic higher purpose to get their employees to bring their smarts and energy to work and suggest the following practical 8 Steps to Create a Purpose-Driven Organization:
  1. Envision an inspired workforce.
  2. Discover the purpose.
  3. Recognize the need for authenticity.
  4. Turn the authentic message into a constant message.
  5. Stimulate individual learning.
  6. Turn midlevel managers into purpose-driven leaders.
  7. Connect the people to the purpose.
  8. Unleash the positive energizers.
Source: Robert E. Quinn and Anjan V. Thakor, "Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization: How to Get Employees to Bring their Smarts and Energy to Work", HBR Jul-Aug 2018, pp.78-85. 26-7-2018



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