In the last few days, I have watched a couple of documentaries that have set in stark relief what can happen when an organisation puts material wealth ahead of a broader sense of purpose.

Netflix’s Downfall charts the corporate history of Boeing, its merger with McDonnell Douglas, a relentless focus on share price over safety and a direct line through to two 737-Max aircraft crashing out of the sky and the resulting deaths of hundreds of people. It’s a sobering watch.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s The Truth About Brewdog charts the growth of a brewing business that on the surface appeared to be all about purpose, but on deeper examination appeared to have used making the world a better place little more than a marketing tactic.

The last decade has apparently seen a shift as organisations increasingly see a need to make purpose above mere profit a core foundation to attract customers and employees. It’s no longer enough to assume that if you are making money you are doing good – indeed, it seems that many now believe that to make money you need to be doing good.

There are plenty of businesses that hold true to that, and a wealth of structures that support such purpose-driven activity: CICs, charities and B-Corps to name but three.

After Easter, in a bit of a change to our usual approach, on the WB-40 Podcast, we are going to explore concepts around the idea of purpose-driven businesses.

So this is a call for tips – who should we be talking to? Are there particular businesses that you think are worth exploring to understand how purpose shapes them? Are there experts in this field who could help us sort between the good and the myth? Are there any businesses that a bucking the Purpose trend in ways that challenge the idea?

We want to understand how purpose makes things different – for customers, for employees and for suppliers. We want to dig into how purpose changes how organisations are managed and led. We want to find out if and how it makes a difference.

All recommendations (and introductions) warmly received – you can DM me on Twitter, or email here.

One thought on “On purpose

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