The Economics of Higher Purpose
What does a lofty notion like purpose have to do with business basics like the bottom line? Robert E. Quinn and Anjan J. Thakor say pretty much everything. Leaders and managers are taught that employees are self-interested and work resistant, so they create systems of control to combat these expectations. Workers resent these systems, and performance suffers. To address the performance issues, managers double down on the coercion, creating a vicious cycle and a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But there is a better way. Quinn and Thakor show that when an authentic higher purpose permeates business strategy and decision-making, the cycle is broken. Employers and employees see themselves as working together toward an inspiring goal, not just trying to hit quarterly targets. They fully engage, become proactive contributors, and, ironically, easily exceed those quarterly targets.
Based on their widely acclaimed Harvard Business Review article, Quinn and Thakor offer eight sometimes surprising steps for shifting from a transaction-oriented mind-set focused on constraints to a purpose-oriented mind-set focused on possibility. This iconoclastic book will help any organization discover its authentic purpose and weave it into the fabric of everything it does, leading to unprecedented levels of personal satisfaction, service and product innovation, and economic growth.
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- When you know your highest purpose, many things that otherwise keep you busy begin to drop off your to-do list. Things you thought you had to do are no longer the right things to do.
- The paradox then is that when a higher purpose is authentic—it is not being pursued explicitly for economic gain—and it is communicated with clarity, it actually produces economic gain!
- By organizational higher purpose we mean a prosocial goal that transcends the usual pursuit of business goals, but intersects these goals.
- Purpose-driven people tend to form networks of purpose-driven people who are engaged with both their heads and their hearts. They attract one another.
- A purpose is not invented, it is discovered. It is embedded in the feelings and the thoughts of the people. The leader’s job is to help the organization discover it. The correct perspective is to view this step not as an expenditure of time but as an investment in the future of the organization.
- The purpose must capture not only people’s minds but also their hearts. People often forget what you told them, but not how they felt when they heard you!
Too often during a crisis, especially financial, our mind narrows as out anxiety may build, and our analysis centers around the immediate balance sheet. That is not only short sighted but counterproductive, as shown by the many examples in this book. Expansive and inclusive thinking framed by a higher purpose catalyzes solutions to the immediate issues as well as activates a different level of engagement by those we depend on to overcome the crisis. This book is about much more than economics and management. It is about authenticity of the heart, a force that creates indelible links of team faithfulness and loyalty that can overcome any obstacles. Those deep links enable the covenant that becomes the arbitrator of decisions. These links also contain the secret for a fulfilled life. This book is a must read for all modern executives!
A must read for leaders that understand all you can command is attendance and all the good stuff is given willingly by those that understand, and share the higher purpose of their organization.
As an HR leader, I am constantly thinking about how to provide a richer, more meaningful work experience. The Economics of Higher Purpose provides a compelling blueprint to help our people connect to a deeper purpose in their work. If this is done well, work becomes more than paycheck; it satisfies our desire to be a part of something bigger.
In their new book, Quinn and Thakor challenge our common assumptions. They share amazing insights and stories on how higher purpose turns everyone into a fully invested person. This volume is a profound playbook for anyone who wants to unleash the human and economic power in the people around them.
The authors take us on a compelling journey in which we discover the why and the how of creating organizations of higher purpose. Then they give us the gift of practical tools and exercises. It is precious volume for those who want to make a difference.
It is one thing to state that meaning makes money. It is quite another to show why and how. This book offers 8 specific, actionable steps for linking purpose and profits. In is an invitation to personal development and organizational flourishing.