Purpose – Where Is Your Organisation On The Hierarchy Pyramid?

Our Purpose is to Save the World

Over the last two weeks I spoke about being purpose driven and linked it up with Maslow’s pyramid at an individual’s level and at an employee’s level. Today I speak about how to balance being purpose driven with managing your own organisation’s context to survive, be profitable, grow and make a difference. The harsh reality here is nobody cares if you have a higher purpose or if you want to make a difference, until you’ve made it big. It’s always about revenue, return on investment and value for money. This is not a bad thing. What I am trying to say here is, despite your best intentions, first and foremost thing people care about is how much return on their investment you are going to give them. This is applicable to institutional investors, venture capitalists and even Government backed agencies like Innovate UK.

As a starting point, below is a summary of the first three Innovate UK questions taken from their website.

Question 1. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

Question 2. Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Question 3. Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

Have you heard of the Flight Safety Briefing Theory? You have not, because I just created it. An important part of the flight safety briefing is the usage of oxygen masks. The flight attendants tell you that when the cabin air pressure goes down, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. Then they say this: secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. This is very important, because if you don’t secure your mask first and try to help others, you may faint for lack of oxygen. Remember this in business also. Secure your mask first before assisting the other person. Keeping this in mind, let us look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from a company’s point of view.

Where on the Hierarchy Pyramid is your Organisation?

The primary purpose of your organisation has to be existence. Existence is simply the act of being. This equates to the physiological needs. Your goal will be to secure initial funding, develop MVP, get your first order, and generate some revenue.

Then at the next level comes survival. Survival is the process of continuing to exist and equates to the security needs. In this stage your goals will be to establish and maintain continuous cash flow, and sustain.

After this comes the growth stage, which equates to the belongingness needs. In this stage your goals or focus will be to . increase clientele, increase revenue streams, build on your MVP, increase product range, access new markets, and grow the size of your team.

Following on from this is the recognition stage, which is the equivalent of the esteem needs. Recognition in this instance doesn’t simply mean awards and achievements, but goes a bit deeper. You get recognised as the leader in one or more areas of your business and sector.

Finally you get to the empowerment stage. In this stage, you will have grown to an extent that you can command the resources to tackle and solve world’s bigger problems, mentor other organisations, create your own innovation ecosystems and help shape policy, i.e. help others wear their oxygen mask!

To summarise this, my questions for you today are:

  1. Where is your organisation on the hierarchy pyramid and why?
  2. What do you need to do to get to the next level and how do you plan on getting there?
  3. Have you got your own oxygen mask secured?

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