Purpose is fundamental to stainability and success, but is all too often neglected. It never should be. Let’s take a closer look and see why.
I saved this diagram from a recent tweet. I have no idea where it originated but it struck me as an effective and very powerful depiction of personal purpose and the 4 forces that ultimately power it. And I don’t think it is any different for an organisation. After all any organisation is ultimately the aggregate of all the people who work for it. So you should not be surprised to find these 4 forces – which, if you think about, it seem fairly obvious - driving purpose for both individuals and organisations. This can be tabulated as follows:
Yet, from a commercial perspective, there is a very strong - almost inseparable - link between need and the willingness to pay. This makes forces three and four virtually one. Thus they can be merged and the original diagram simplified.
The circles show the personal drivers while the labels depicting the overlap between them, possibly depict the terms used more commonly in an organisational context. Yet they can be restated even more simply.
It is not stretching things to interpret that which you love as 'motive'; or that which you are good at as a 'talent or skill'; or that which is needed as 'useful'. This makes it easier to see the logic that where these overlap is what your organisation expects from employees. The power, however, really comes from the point at which the three circles overlap. This is the sweet spot and you can very easily call it engagement rather than purpose. So, however you choose to define engagement it is ultimately the point where mission, passion and accountability combine. And you will never win it from your people until their personal motives, skills and sense of usefulness overlap.
Actually, this is precisely the point that people like Daniel Pink have been making for years. This next diagram represents what Pink calls the three, fundamental intrinsic motivators- autonomy; mastery and purpose.
All we have done is equate purpose with motive; mastery with skills; and autonomy with usefulness, on the basis that if a person is not left to get on with things on their own as best they can, they will never feel entirely useful or that they are fulfilling their potential. Consequently they will never have the engagement – or what Pink calls the “drive” - that you would ideally expect from them and that you need to fuel and sustain your organisational success.
So now you can see how closely allied purpose and employee engagement are. The more you can align these three drivers of individual and organisational purpose the more engaged your employees will be, and the better your organisational performance.
Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, a company created to help larger small to large business organisations to properly value their people and thereby inspire them to optimise their self-worth and so engage that they transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement.”