4 Ways we’re held back from Innovation and Impact. How we (I’m included in this) unwittingly dampened what we wanted to create (Innovation and Impact) at SMBs and Non-Profits!
Reawakening the Why and integrating it throughout the organization fuels growth (Impact) and may be the single most significant decision you can make.
Why infused organizations, one’s that have integrated it in to their culture outperform and it isn’t fringe players saying it. Try on these quotes from two business luminaries, Warren Buffet and Andrew Carnegie. Or, click here to see but one example of how one industry has been overturned by the power of Why. And, of course, there’s these recent reports and studies on the power of focusing on the Why or at minimum, something other than just numbers.
Despite that, I’ve noticed a challenging trend
As I’ve worked with non-profits and SMBs (and led them myself), I’ve noticed an interesting trend. Over the past 20-years, for-profit management has been brought to bear on non-profit organizations and SMBs. Generally, that seems to be a good thing. Organizations are better funded, more secure, more strategic and making better use of dollars to create greater impact. To the Leaders who accomplished this, I say well done. We’re better off for your efforts! But, as with Big Corporate America, when you do that (include me in this group), you run a very fundamental risk. Management practice trumps and has the potential to squeeze out Purpose, the WHY of the organization, which significantly dampens innovation and growth. I was startled when, upon reflection, I realized I’ve done it!
It isn’t intended, but minimizing Why reduces Innovation, Growth and Impact
Those I talk with don’t intend to “squeeze,” the Why out in a sea of numbers. I sure didn’t. They certainly didn’t intend to squeeze out growth and innovation (checkmark, neither did I!). In fact, no matter how big or small or the type of business, I’ve yet to hear a Leader say, “forget mission and drop innovation and growth.” I sure didn’t. But, a startling reality is that in many ways, what top business schools and management programs have taught us, is exactly what causes this, since they fail to teach how to integrate the Why with strategy, innovation, leadership and most importantly, management techniques. No, these programs didn’t tell us you to get rid of the Purpose. But what they did do is teach us to focus on managing by the numbers. One step further, what they don’t emphasize is how you integrate your mission, your Why, throughout your organization and use it as an innovation and growth catalyst. In fact, in my time at Business Schools, I recall little to any conversation about the power of Why (Purpose), Vision or Mission and I certainly don’t recall any offerings related to how you integrated it throughout each element of your business model.
Not-for-profits and SMBs, like entrepreneurial companies once were energized by their Why
When you talk to entrepreneurial leaders and SMB and non-profit Founders (or been one yourself), there is a common thread to their stories—to mine as well. When they started their company or cause, there was an unwavering passion, desire and energy that led everything. Usually, if you want to oversimplify, it was, to make the world a better place by xxxxxxx. That desire energized and infused those early days allowing those organizations to innovate, achieve remarkable things and grow. But, a funny thing happens when that happens. You can lose your Why and your vision as you scale your organization. It remains in what is written and told to people, but as people are added to the organizations, the power of the message fades (as does the passion for it). Why? It wasn’t designed in a way for the Why to be integrated throughout the business model and culture at scale.
If Purpose is that powerful, why is Awakening and Integrating the Why so difficult and so seldom done?
Leaders inherently recognize the importance of Why to their organization. They also have all the tools, resources and skills needed to awaken it, whether they know it or not. In fact, my experience is, they’re (as am I) all thirsting for it. We became leaders to make a difference, not to master numbers. Why then, don't we, particularly at not-for-profits, which inherently have a social mission? Here’s what I’ve found.
We’ve entered an exciting time, the challenge is for Leaders to innovate and embrace, the potential is limitless
Finally, after many decades, probably since the Industrial Revolution, when Management Technique became an obsession, we’ve got a bona fide opportunity to break through. We have an opportunity to use Combination Innovation to harness the most powerful innovation and growth engine on the planet, Purpose. Simply put, we need to use the incredible power of management technique and learn to apply it with a different purpose, Purpose. The concept is simple, the outcomes are powerful, the execution, due to lack of experiencing can be challenging. But, the good news is, it will get you to the next level.
Brian Chossek has helped Fortune 500 organizations, for-profits, not-for-profits, Entrepreneurs, SMBs and Executives across many industries and a myriad of sizes to safely position themselves to reach the next level by Awakening and Integrating the Power of Why throughout their organizations. He provides thought provoking talks on the Power of Purpose, facilitates weekend seminars on next level leadership, combination innovation and Awakening and Integrating Why and works directly with Leaders to reach the next level. He serves where Purpose, Leadership, Innovation, Strategy and Organizational Development intersects.
The voice and stories from this blog originate from the collective wisdom and experiences not just of our team, but with those we were fortunate to learn from.