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How to optimize the wellbeing machine
5 min read

At the heart of any economic system is one underlying objective: to create well-being for all. Climate change, inequality, and decreasing biodiversity prove that our current system is failing at the mission of creating wellbeing for all. How do we move to a purpose driven system without losing out on the profit our current system […]

At the heart of any economic system is one underlying objective: to create well-being for all. Climate change, inequality, and decreasing biodiversity prove that our current system is failing at the mission of creating wellbeing for all. How do we move to a purpose driven system without losing out on the profit our current system creates? This is what we discuss throughout this article. 

To move from a profit-first system to a purpose-first system, we must understand the three logics that lead to the creation of purpose-driven organizations. Each section of this article breaksdown one of those logics. 

This article sheds light on the conversation between Dr. Victoria Hurth, Fellow at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL); Benoit Beaufils, Founding Partner at Innate Motion; and Shad Raouf, Show Host.

If you prefer to listen, click play below.

Fierce Empathy 

Our economic system dictates that wellbeing is best allocated through the market in the form of profit.  We have distilled our understanding of wellbeing into financial metrics like how much money was made, saved, or lost. Money is the way we currently measure growth, wellbeing, and success. But, the state of people and our planet prove that our system is not successful at creating well-being for all. 

Understanding why people perpetuate the system is the first step to finding a way to reconcile profit and purpose. For almost 100 years, we’ve been stuck in a profit-first system. We have internalized its values, logic, and contradictions. We have become almost inseparable from it, it has become the natural way of life even if we cannot fully articulate if and why we believe in it. 

It is impossible to have a constructive conversation about shifting towards a purpose-first system (rather than a profit-first system) without first empathizing with why people support our current system as it stands. Through empathy we can carve out clarity from the chaos, we can tap into richer ideas, and we can become open to working with one another. 

When people with different perspectives about how the system should be come together, and listen to each other, new futures can be built. A purpose-first future is not a future where profit doesn’t exist, rather it is a future where purpose and profit fundamentally coexist. Empathy is how we begin to collectively operate the well-being machine in a way that works for everyone rather than a select few. 

 

Radical Collaboration 

The second element necessary for a purpose-first future is long-term thinking. By thinking of profit maximization in the long term rather than in the short term, businesses start to realize the importance of prioritizing purpose. This is because thinking long-term reveals our undeniable interdependence on each other and the planet.

Creating a purpose-driven organization goes much deeper than having a CSR strategy to respond to stakeholder pressure. When the organizational perspective broadens from a narrow view of the future to a big-picture and long-term view of what’s ito come, interdependence is more intricately understood and narratives inevitably shift. It starts becoming clear how the long-term future of the company is inextricably tied to climate change, social stability, inequality, and air quality. 

When these dependencies become increasingly clearer, it becomes easier to justify investment in decisions that are tied to significant social and environmental purposes. It becomes a necessity to invest in the long-term. Without doing so, it becomes hard to realistically imagine a future where the company still exists. 

Moving to long-term thinking is moving towards enlightenment and collaboration.

 

Call for Change 

Our existential threat is that though our economy is supposed to create wellbeing for all, it isn’t doing that at the moment. The way to change this is to move from being pulled into a marketplace where profit is the ultimate priority –  to a marketplace where wellbeing is the main concern. To do this, we call on all organizations to set a purpose-driven organizational purpose. 

An organizational purpose is the reason you exist, not something you do on the side. It is your optimal strategic contribution to long-term wellbeing for all people and the planet. What purpose driven organizations do is that they cut to the chase. They don’t allow purpose and profit to exist separately each in their own silo, they anchor purpose directly to profit. 

Purpose driven organizations anchor their value creation activities to the goal of well being for all and their organizational purpose is a contribution towards the goal of wellbeing for all. By doing so, they are forging a new economic system where the marketplace becomes a marketplace of potential long-term wellbeing creation.

Here are a few resources to help you make the leap towards transforming into a purpose-driven organization: 

 

Closing Remarks

To reinvent our system and shift into a system where the wellbeing of people and planet comes first – we must move away from the habits we have. To do that, we must first understand our habits, deconstruct them, and open a space where creation and reimagination are accepted and encouraged. Without rich thinking and creativity, it is hard to imagine a purpose-first future.