Thoughts on being purpose-driven and growing together Thoughts on being purpose-driven and growing together

By Raisa Aromaa


A customer, a company representative, and a company employee walk into a bar. They are all thirsty and have something particular in mind. As they reach the counter, the bartender addresses them: “Good day. What brings you, fine folks, here today, and what may I offer you?”

The customer takes a look at the others and says: “Well, I had my mind set on something but I’m interested in hearing what you two would suggest.” The company rep answers: “I thought we’d follow your lead but now that you’ve brought it up, I guess we can find something we all like.” The employee nods in agreement and says: “I was going to go along with whatever you two choose, but you’re absolutely right, it’s a great idea for us all to have the same.”

The trio put their heads together and start throwing ideas: “High quality!” “Don’t forget quantity.” “It should taste good, too.” “Not too pricey, either.” When they break the huddle, they tell the bartender: “We’ve come to the joint decision that in order to meet everyone’s needs, we’d like to order a pitcher of something that’s reasonably priced, still good quality, not too sweet but not very bitter, moderately strong and with some of those cocktail umbrellas if possible. Can you recommend anything?” The bartender smiles at the excited bunch and replies: “I think I have a drink that would be perfect for you. Its flavor will suit everyone’s taste, there’s plenty for you all and it is very affordable. Would you like to try some Purpose-driven Success?”

From greed to growth

The philosophy behind the win-win-win option proposed above is exactly the thing why I’m so excited and grateful to be doing the practical training period in my HR studies at Intopalo. It made my heart swell and electrified my thoughts when I started and it still does every day. Being purpose-driven may have become the goal in people’s personal lives, but still doesn’t seem to be mainstream in business or at the core of existence for commercial organizations. It should be. It’s the smart, the humane and the profitable mixed up and topped with a generous dose of longevity.

Being driven by a purpose, having a deeper meaning to what we do, allows most of us to experience more thorough fulfillment and well-being. Search for this eudaimonic happiness or gratification is currently resurrecting even as we witness the symptoms of the late reign of the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. I fear that the latter can easily lead to greed or excessive chasing of profit in business.

On the other hand, being purpose-driven, prioritizing the eudaimonic kind of fulfillment, is not exempt from aspirations of success and growth. However, it is fundamentally more complete and versatile, and for that reason destined to bloom if gardened with care.

When everyone wins

At Intopalo, the driving force is the growth to full potential for everybody: the employees, the customers, and the company. These are not mutually exclusive objectives – they are seen as inseparable layers of the same goal. They are like parts of an engine that won’t work if one or two are neglected, or better still, components in a complex physiological system where balance and care guarantee well-being. It’s symbiotic, natural and just plain intelligent.

These are all connected, and they depend on each other in order to truly flourish. Overextending one area would shrink the others, diminish the overall wealth and hinder the upward spiral towards growth. It works to everyone’s benefit when the shared goal is acknowledged and everyone’s needs and roles in cooperation are aligned with it.

Give and take

Of the three operators, you might argue that the customer is the most important, bringing in the money that enables everything else. Today’s customer expects high-quality services and products, value for their investment, but also appreciates a partner that operates ethically, both in sales and as an employer, as it meshes with their own values and also improves their own image.

The customer must be sold and served what they need, and delivered what they are promised. When motivated employees thrive, it happens that the expectations for the work they do are most often exceeded happily. Thus the organization answers the needs and desires of the customer by contributing expertise and character through its employees.

At the very least, the customer, in turn, promotes the continuity of business for the employer and indirectly gives work and money to the employee. The employee may also gain value from the customer in the form of interesting and fulfilling work, and the employer’s brand benefits from a successful partnership.

All-inclusive motivation

I’m confident that my viewpoint as an employee is quite relatable. What makes a purpose-driven organization such an attractive employer must be connected with the brilliance in its ability to motivate so thoroughly. The higher-level needs are being met as we get to actualize ourselves, work in interesting projects with other enthusiastic people, learn and develop our skills, feel accomplishment and appreciation over our input and know that our work has a deeper meaning and purpose. It’s not just work, or even a career seen as a progression, but a calling.

The lower-level needs, most prominently financial security, are met exactly because operating with a purpose will carry the company far. A thriving and growing organization needs people, and it is in their interest to keep the personnel thriving and growing as well. If a company sets its purpose so that it will be in business and prospering well into the future, the employee can be pretty sure they will be needed there to make it happen.

And when you are motivated, you are happy to push your boundaries. This well-being and resulting top-notch performance benefit the customer and the employer within the work context but may also prove an asset in enhancing their brand.

Altruistic opportunism

The organization obviously wants to grow, fill its purpose and continue doing these for a long time. It offers the quality product or service, employees’ expertise, and value for investment to the customer. As an employer, by default, it gives work and salary to the employee, but one of its priorities is also to enable the growth of its employees and to ensure their overall well-being.

Investing in this is nothing but wise: the return it yields on all fronts is manifold. Excellent work by dedicated employees leads to a first-rate customer experience, boosts sales and builds an image of quality. Tending to the needs of others actually promotes your own agenda: it builds long-lasting relationships with devoted employees and loyal customers.

Fuel, not the goal

Why are the purpose-driven organizations so profitable then? When profit is rather considered a side-product and treated as an enabler for fulfilling your purpose, you can actually concentrate on the job at hand in a more efficient and flexible way. It frees you from being fixed on numbers that dictate your actions or from stubbornly clinging to the illusion that you could predict and control the future. When you focus on your purpose and the possibilities leading towards it, you are more tuned in to sense the information important to you and agiler to respond and make need-based adjustments.

Ultimately, being purpose-driven and profitable means having ambition without ego or greed. It all comes back to the idea of a symbiotic relationship. The organization is responsible for creating the circumstances where its members can and want to surpass the given expectations, which in turn makes the customers want to return, which enables the organization to continually improve the work environment. It’s a virtuous circle.

Actions speak louder than words

While I believe that the essence of being purpose-driven is applicable to any organization, it does call for genuine passion, dedication, and constant self-evaluation. Sometimes it may require a change at the core level, an adjustment of values or take an analytical view of economics and business from a fresh angle. What it always demands is work.

Having an ethically and financially sustainable operating system won’t do you much good unless your practices and the work you actually do every day reflect it. The organization needs to live according to its own philosophy and be fueled by its purpose, continuously evaluate how things really work and make adjustments as they are needed.

The stated purpose of the organization lays the groundwork for the motivation in the whole system and forms a rock-solid base for any and all of the processes, anything from sales and marketing to the work done for the customers and to HR which is integral to work well-being.

A toast to teamwork

So whatever happened to the bar-bound employee, employer and customer, when they went for the bartender’s offer and got a taste of purpose-driven reality? Very likely they amiably shared a pitcher of success and had a nice chit-chat. Then they went home, eager to get up for work the next day and make a difference once again. Because it feels so darn good. Another version of the story goes that they were so immersed in their discussion about their shared bright future that they stayed up all night talking. Time flies when you have a purpose.