Moral Purpose: Nikos Mourkogiannis
All leaders, not just top CEOs, face difficult strategic decisions throughout their careers. The single factor that helps them make these decisions correctly is an understanding of what their organization is really trying to do: its Purpose. That’s because the Purpose of the organization— the shared recognition of the reason why it exists—is the context that determines whether a decision is the right one to make at any particular time.

Purpose does not mean making money. It does not even mean producing goods or services, satisfying shareholders or paying taxes and contributing to society. Those are all the things that an organization must do in order to fulfill its Purpose. The Purpose is a moral conviction: a rationale that explains why a particular group of talented people—leaders and employees—should spend their valuable time working together in this particular organization doing these particular things. For example: Are we here to discover new inventions? To increase people’s happiness? To create beauty and quality? To control the direction of our industry? Or for some other reason?

Four Purposes
    1. Discovery centers on the search for the new. Discovery put America on the map, men on the moon and the dot-coms in business. Sony, IBM, Google, and many technologically based companies have succeeded by making innovation and exploration the center of their effort.
    2. Excellence focuses on providing the best possible product or service. Excellence built the great cathedrals of Europe and today’s most successful professional and creative businesses. Apple, BMW, and Warren Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway have all built their identity around the artistry of their endeavors.
    3. Altruism is built on compassion. Altruism is the driving force of any organization that exists primarily to help others, like many political parties or most charities. Nordstrom, Hewlett-Packard, and even Wal-Mart have established appeal around the idea that they are, first and foremost, making their customers happy.
    4. Heroism sets the standards for everyone else to follow. Heroism resulted in the Roman Empire, Wimbledon champions Serena and Venus Williams and many spectacular growth companies. Microsoft, ExxonMobil (and its predecessor Standard Oil), and GE have dominated their markets and industries by focusing on their capacity to win every competition.

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