Having Both Purpose And Profit

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Companies have long been obsessed with chasing profit – but that’s changing very fast nowadays.  Many organizations have begun looking at how they can have a good impact on the world, finding the need for purpose along with profit as a common theme in the industry these days.

In most of my conversations with leaders and movers in the industry, it is evident that there is a shift from the single-minded pursuit of profit to the adoption of purpose and values by the most progressive organizations.  But where can purpose take place? I believe purpose can’t replace profit, which is vital to most organizations, yet there is a growing resonance that purpose needs to be sitting right at the heart of the decision table. 

Many progressive organizations have adopted best practices that align with their purpose. These show up in the form of: a bold purpose statement that people can rally behind, a clear translation of purpose in the culture, in the leadership behaviours, in the brand communications, in the objectives and key results, in shareholder communications, in strategic guardrails. Making purpose as a lived and tangible experience is a trend that is shifting prioritization in many companies today.

Why pursue purpose? It’s been said that, without purpose, a business can only be a reservoir of untapped potential. Seeking to maximize only shareholder value wastes the time, talent and energy of people who can be galvanized to do something meaningful.

How can purpose be brought to life? At LIVEsciences, we have what we call a “Purpose Pot”, where we pour in 25% of our annual profit to support projects aligned with our values and where we see a catalytic potential to serve people and organizations.

The story started when we decided to explore the idea of contributing to purpose in a radical

way. We wanted not to just talk about purpose but to live it, so the idea of setting aside a certain share of our profits for purpose emerged. Profit itself is then imbued with purpose. Not many companies would take such an approach, but that is what makes us special and proud to be part of LIVEsciences.

Initially, the concept of the purpose pot stayed at a conceptual level in 2019, but in the spring of 2020, we decided it should be based on what inspires us personally, and collectively. We love keeping it simple, so we set out 4 criteria for purpose projects: Values Alignment, Active Involvement, Scalability and a Winning Mindset.

In our last offsite, we were able to round off funding to 5 initiatives namely:

  • The Week – A global climate change initiative. 
  • A piece of life-preserving equipment for JMJ Hospital in India. 
  • A Community Platform for Women’s Health in Bulgaria 
  • A socio-economic empowerment programme with JMJ Social Service Society in India 
  • Support to develop open-source health care solutions through Health Hack Lab in Basel 

Check our newsletter for more details on the process and outcomes of our purpose pot rounds!

You may also check Rhea’s views about Putting Perspective in Purpose.

So, why purpose, again?

Well, some say, simply because prioritizing purpose is the right thing to do, as it upholds our values. Upon closer analysis though, purpose has a deeper role at LIVEsciences: it gives us a reason to do well by doing good, it provides direction and common consciousness of what we are catalyzing as change in the world, and a collective eagerness to be part of a something that dreams with eyes wide open, a sense of wholeness to bring ideas and suggest initiatives we feel strongly about, and ultimately understand what truly matters to us. 

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