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Why purpose matters


What do we mean by sustainable business? To answer this question, we first need to answer a more fundamental question – what does it mean to live a good life? Consensus is growing around the concept of “long term wellbeing for all; people and planet”. So, what part might business play in achieving this goal.

Firstly, this is an opportunity to challenge our assumptions, many of them based on 20th century economic models. Assumptions that include the assertion, humans are essentially self-interested and rational.

The role of over-financialisaton of our systems and our understanding of success, is absolutely core.

The economy is not the problem, the form of the economy is the problem.

We’ve relied too heavily on proxy measures – GDP and Profit.

For too long, we’ve prized a commander leadership style. Borrowed from the military, this is ideal when you’re facing a short- term threat. It leads to short term decision-making, which is exactly where we find ourselves.

Now is a critical moment in human history, where organisations have the opportunity to challenge old paradigms and to embrace the idea of stewardship.


So what?

Starting with a blank sheet of paper… there’s an urgent need to ask ourselves, some fundamental questions:

What do we value and what is success?

What is the role of profit?

What is a good business?

What are our world views/ our stakeholders world views about what is valuable to produce?

What do healthy human systems look like?

Now what, can we do about it?

Pre-purpose, leaders need to be brave and vulnerable. This kind of change requires moral courage. Shifting from business-as-usual to sustainable business means a mindset shift, moving from financial income to wellbeing outcomes for all, as your reason to exist. The promise, organisational purpose, aligned to a wellbeing economy.

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