Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Three Main Organizational Drivers

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

Is your company primarily power-, profit-, or purpose-driven?

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.)

Profit-Driven:

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.)

Purpose-driven

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, socialbrite.org 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 http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here

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