Sunday, May 17, 2009



We have known for a long time that 'turned-on' teams and organisations produce an order of magnitude more than apathetic or complaint groups. Now we have to factor in the importance of 'knowledge workers'. In corporate or business after business, there is a battle for talent. Growth and profit is constrained by the numbers of people with key skills and knowledge.

How can your company or organisation attract, motivate and retain more of these key people than your competitors?

Richard Ellsworth argues that "the historical battle between work as a source of drudgery and alienation and work as a creative, fulfilling experience continues today. It is within senior management's power to shape the outcome of conflict... Purpose performs two profoundly important, but often unrecognised, roles in this process. First it helps people transcend the boundery between the self and others... Second...loyalty is increased. Loyalty brings with it lower turnover, more stable relationships and the subordination of narrow self interest to the common interest. The firm's knowledge is less likely to walk out the door and kowledge creating networks remain intact. Trust is enhanced".

Another recent study by McKinsey suggest that a widely shared sense of purpose and values is associated with superior business performance. A study of 231 global businesses identified three distinct and complementary management practices - clear roles, an inspiring vision and an open and trusting culture - as essential to performance.

Each of these practices would benefit from a strong sense of purpose and values.

Another survey, co-soponsored by Crawford International, pointed to the impact of adaptive culture on financial growth. They found that investing in strengthening leadership and culture to improve adaptability can have a significant impact on long-term financial performance of a company.

The following data summaries the impact of adaptive culture for the upper and lower quartiles of companies participating in this study. This financial growth was measured from 1996 to 2004:

Net Income Growth

Adaptive Corporate Culture 989%

Non-Adaptive Corporate Culture -47%

Net Income Index Growth

Adaptive Corporate Culture 11.5

Non-Adaptive Corporate Culture 1.7

Stock Price Growth

Adaptive Corporate Culture 204%

Non-Adaptive Corporate Culture 70%


The McKinsey Quarterly 2006, Number 3, Managing your organisation by the evidence

Richard Ellsworth (2002), leading with purpose-The new Corporate Realities, Stanford Business Book

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