Work on Purpose

The way we work is changing, can you feel it?

Whether we like it or not there is a massive plate moving under our feet, sometimes slowly, sometimes in jerks. This plate is purpose, meaning, impact, engagement. It is full of buzzwords, but those only cover the surface of what is bursting through.

Purpose is no longer the realm of the artist and the foreign aid worker. Everyone who gets in car, enters an office and sits down at a computer, has the tools to make this world better, everyday. And they have begun asking ‘what am I doing here?’ Not because they want to leave, but because they need to know why they are there.

The research rush has begun, Deloitte is on it and so are many others. But that’s not what’s important, what’s important is that it is coming. The millennials (myself included) will not allow themselves to be placed in boxes, work 9 to 5, day in day out. To have meaning come in a mid life crisis when they buy a red corvette. They are forcing the world to change, they using the tools created and fought for, and ‘disrupting’ not just economies but the way the world works.

Local and international development, what used to be the role of the lone aid worker and charity is now open to social enterprise, to business. Communities have opened their eyes to the benefits of using the tools and approaches of the private sector in building the infrastructure of communities, developing the talent of the youth, improving health care and having enough to eat. This group calls themselves the changemakers, the social entrepreneurs. They are no longer concerned with how it used to be. They are pulling from the successes they see around them to build a new way of working, and they’re not waiting for approval.

For the last 50 years business has flourished; sprawling out across the world in waves of concrete buildings, environmental and social destruction, and force feeding the 1%. This wave has reached its limits and we are beginning to realize that unless we take control, harness this force and direct towards what makes our lives and this planet better, we will not last long. From Michael Porter’s article on Shared Value in the Harvard Business Review, to today where every third article from Forbes, HBR and HuffingtonPost… is on meaning and purpose. Look at this latest one by Linkedin and Imperative, the company founded by the Purpose Economy author, Aron Hurst. Not to forget B Corporation which is bringing human values back into business, and making companies a hell of a profit doing it.

These simultaneous rivers of change are coming together. The millennials are beginning to work en masse, the ideals of social enterprise is becoming mainstream, and purpose is the new corporate battleground.

This is not new to those of you who have felt the ground shaking beneath them. But for the rest, I just want to make sure you get a heads up.

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