The Three Main Organizational Drivers

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

Is your company primarily power-, profit-, or

Approaching a meeting with the CEO of his
organization, one of my culture clients (a senior executive of a major
retailer) said, “I’m going to ask him whether he thinks we are a power-driven
company, a profit-driven company, or a purpose-driven company.” I’d not heard
about those differentiators, so I asked him to define them for me.

Organizations are not exclusively driven by a
single one of these approaches,  but
their primary drivers are not that difficult to diagnose. An organization’s
plans, decisions, and actions provide very clear indicators of their core
interests and drivers.

Power Driven:

A company that is primarily power-driven

seeks to be a standard-setter, a
“big player” in their industry that others must work with to gain a foothold in
their marketplace.

seeks to make profits, but their
primary actions are designed to increase their influence, their market share,
their breadth.

 exhibits behavior that can be seen as
self-serving and arrogant.

Based on these criteria, I see Microsoft as
primarily a power-driven company. (Full disclosure: I’m running Microsoft 365
on my Macs & iPad. I’m as culpable as any other Microsoft product user for
helping them extend their power.)


A primarily profit-driven company:

seeks to create organizational
wealth, first and foremost.

analyzes potential products,
services, and markets carefully to identify the most profitable avenues, then
pursues those avenues for as long as the profits meet expectations.

exhibits behavior that can be seen
as self-serving and manipulative.

are known to take advantage of
existing rules and/or laws to create profits.

Based on these criteria, I see pharmaceutical
companies as primarily profit-driven. (Full disclosure: I’m a big believer in
Western medicine. I take prescription medications daily to keep my heart
healthy and my knees working smoothly.)


A primarily purpose-driven company:

seeks to engage employees and
customers in helping the organization’s service vision to become a reality.

often promote social
responsibility and demonstrate service to their communities regularly.

employees typically are very vocal
about their organization’s purpose and community benefit.

Certainly, purpose-driven companies must be
profitable to continue their good works; profits serve a purpose, rather than
being the primary desired outcome.

A few years ago, celebrated
four terrific examples of corporate social responsibility. Based on these
criteria, I believe that Newman’s Own, the late Paul Newman’s charitable
organization, is a purpose-driven company (they’ve given over $300 million to
charitable causes since 1982). (Full disclosure: I LOVE Newman’s Own products,
particularly their black bean & corn salsa. Amazing quality & taste,
and I’m helping community organizations every time I inhale a jar of it.)

The Rest of the Story

I connected with this client after his CEO
meeting, and he said the conversation was a rich one. “He thinks we’re a
profit-driven company that wants to be a purpose-driven company,” he related.
“I like that – it means we’re not ‘done,’ that we can evolve to the kind of
purpose-driven company I think we can be.”

I’m optimistic, as well. Creating a
purpose-driven company is more art than science, pulling together key pieces
that make a cohesive, vibrant whole. This client has the heart, skills, and
commitment to help his organization evolve.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here