The pandemic put many organizations to the test. How dexterous and adaptable to change are they really?
Moreover, organizational purpose is experiencing a renaissance. The current crisis has caused many organizations to reflect on their raison d’être – why they exist, what they stand for, and where they are going. In our Change Management Study 2019, we found that organizational dexterity and purpose have more in common than previously thought. To a great extent, both are triggered by culture. In times of uncertainty and transformation, it is more important than ever that business leaders take the leap in organizational dexterity through harvesting the benefits of a purpose-driven culture.
The future belongs to dexterous organizations
The world we live in is changing faster and with increasing unpredictability. Thus, organizations must adapt flexibly to any kind of organizational change. We call this behavior organizational dexterity. Our research shows that these organizations get ahead of the competition by bringing dexterity to life through eight powerful levers. One of them is culture, which poses a clear attribute for success for 77% of dexterous organizations.
How can organizational purpose shape culture and help organizations win the game?
Culture encompasses shared values, standards, and attitudes. It stands for a common vision and mindset that provide a strong sense of community and form the basis for collaboration, empowerment, and innovation. Through our collaboration with Right To Play, a child rights organization, we experienced the power of purpose-driven cultures for organizations’ ability to adapt quickly, and get employees engaged and increasingly productive. What can business leaders learn from their purpose-driven culture approach?
Cultural elements need to be reflected in an organization’s strategy
As Cyril Garcia, CEO from Capgemini Invent, said after the acquisition of Purpose, we see “a major shift towards building business with purpose. For many large companies, [purpose] has evolved beyond corporate social responsibility to business transformation and the need for a redefinition of business models, practices, and culture.”
Right To Play, as an NGO, is fueled with purpose by nature. Everything the organization does, each decision, is guided by purpose. Anchored in their strategy, the defined purpose provides clear direction to employees for their ways of working and individual fields of action. It motivates and inspires them to think big and helps to align their engagements.
Business leaders need to be one step ahead and dare to anchor purpose into their strategy.
Doing this will integrate purpose at the core of every action and provide direction and motivation to the entire organization.
Communicated and lived purpose drives autonomy and self-organization
NGOs communicate enthusiastically how their purpose is translated into actions. Thereby, they touch people emotionally and mobilize them to contribute to their ambition. Again, take Right To Play, which conducted webinars to create transparency about the effects of the crisis on their work with children, as an example. But the power of purpose goes even further. Purpose provides the required guidance to empower employees to work self-organized and autonomously towards a clearly defined objective. When navigating through an organization’s transformation towards increased dexterity, communication is key. Therefore, leaders need to create a clear connect between their purpose-driven culture and their actions.
Purpose can help to close the talent gap and recruit with cultural fit
Observing NGOs shows that purpose-driven organizations benefit from greater talent attraction, strong retention levels, and increased productivity. Future talents are looking for meaning in what they are doing. On the other side, NGOs’ understanding of work requires recruiting with cultural fit and a strong belief in their purpose to ensure performance. To find the talent with the right fit, organizations can use tools such as Equalture in their hiring process. The investments in recruiting will pay off because employees will be more committed to common goals.
Purpose fosters collaboration and ecosystem thinking
Through a powerful ecosystem, NGOs create an impact that they could not achieve alone. They focus on cooperation instead of competition. Thus, they build and foster strong self-organized partnerships with other organizations that enable them to benefit from different mindsets, expertise, and approaches. Purpose makes the ecosystem feel connected and supports in aligning the combined effort in one direction. Business leaders need to understand that success is a team performance and apply the measures of a purpose-driven culture not only to their organization but holistically to the entire ecosystem.
Organizations have the power to make work more meaningful and become dexterous by doing so. Have you already unlocked the power of purpose and integrated it into your DNA?
Isabell Schastok is a People and Organization Transformation expert. You can contact her at