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Purposeful Organization Set for Lift Off

5th January 2015 | Clive Wilson

In this latest post, Clive Wilson showcases the importance of establishing a sense of purpose to your organization and staying true to this to drive performance beyond boundaries.

Designing the Purposeful Organization (9780749472207)

When Glenn Martin was a kid, he was intrigued and excited by science fiction and particularly the idea of jet-packs that gave humans the ability to fly like superman. Many of us have such childhood fantasies. For me I dreamt of being “owl man” and flying to rescue people in distress. I soon grew out of the idea but that wasn’t the case for Glenn Martin.  He spent his student days designing prototypes and later used his job as a marketing professional in a pharmaceutical company to fund his research. It seems that his overwhelming personal purpose was to turn his sci-fi dream into reality. My personal interest in this is the power of purpose, particularly the synergy between key stakeholders in a business, current or future.  In Designing the Purposeful Organization I stress the need for organizations to engage deeply with their purpose from the perspectives of all their stakeholders, to discover the synergy and to establish an inspiring sense of purpose that can be systematically used to drive success.

Glenn Martin seems to have done just that. He went out into the world to tell his story and he listened to their needs and ideas.  He even captured the imagination of the first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong, as well as that of the US Government.  He has seen his product through the eyes of all stakeholders and this is apparent at the website of his business: www.martinjetpack.com. He has clearly listened to customer segments and is tailoring the jetpack to meet the needs of emergency rescue and ultimately the leisure market (amongst others).  He has discovered what it takes to appeal to investors, which is evidenced by the floatation of his New Zealand business, Martin Aircraft Company, on the Australian stock market. He has understood the needs of pilots in terms of ergonomics and safety and there is no doubt that the design and development of the jetpack is dream job for the technical staff of his business. It is easy to envisage, in this neat case study, how neglecting any one of these stakeholder purposes could lead to business failure.

Yet, so many established businesses lose connection with the purpose of their key stakeholders and fail to establish the inspiring sense of purpose that drives “performance beyond boundaries”.  A common pitfall is to over-focus on one stakeholder at the expense of others. I have met too many business leaders who over-focus on delivering profit and who slip into “results driven” language that frankly demotivates people and tears the soul out of their organizations. Imagine if Glenn Martin had seen his ideas purely as generating revenue.  Would he ever have put those years of “self-sacrifice” into his ideas as a young man?

Read about the floatation of Martin Aircraft Company at the BBC website:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30390231

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