If you are familiar with TIE’s work, you’ll know we’re all about pulling people out of their comfort zones.
Out of where they operate in their jobs.
Get them working without guidelines. Without structure.
Help them to see the world differently.
Question the status quo.
And to bring out the best in them. Help them find their purpose. And find their why.
This is the core of TIE.
So it is no surprise, then, that when I met Neil Cassie, founder of the Cassie Partnership, a leading consultancy in helping the key management of large organisations close the gap between their company’s vision and their people’s behaviour, we didn’t stop talking.
Neil shared with us how he has worked with leaders and employees to unleash their potential, guiding their journey to ingrain purpose in their workplace and their career.
As a way to share his incredible knowledge and insights with all of you, we asked him a few questions.
If you want to be inspired, and see the workplace in a completely different way, read his answers below.
I know you will enjoy the read!
TIE: What is the value to the organization in having employees with a strong sense of purpose?
NEIL: Purpose answers the question, why are we here? This is an enquiry at a philosophical, human level. It places any business in a societal context. It makes belonging to any organisation personal, not functional. Too ‘tree hugging’? Too ‘New Age’ mumbo jumbo? Well read on.
A 2012 Deutsche Bank review of 56 academic research papers revealed that 89% of the studies showed companies with strong ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’ (ESG) factors outperformed competitors on a market basis, while 85% showed these types of companies exhibited accounting-based outperformance.
According to a 2013 report by Deloitte, executives are more than 50% likely to be attracted to and retained by a company if they feel there is a strong sense of purpose. So, in fact, purpose, not only brings empirical value to the organisation, it defines the value of the organisation.
Therefore, the question ‘why are we here’? is the strategic navigating tool that all leaders who wish to differentiate & grow must place at the heart of their business.
TIE: What is the transformational process like for both the individual and the company?
NEIL: The transformational process for the company and the individual is exactly the same.This is not a cascade process where the vision and mission are shared at town hall meetings or printed on T-shirts, pens and mugs. This is a mutual inquiry asking the same question. Why are we here? Why am I here?
Behind that question is one more – ‘what is the innate value I/we represent’?
By linking the value of the individual with the value of the organisation, a link is formed that allows a development journey to flow. A journey that extends beyond a company’s or individual’s function, role or expertise. So, not a process – a journey of mutual accountability defined by inquiry, discovery, prioritization, innovation and collaboration.
TIE: What are some challenges that individuals normally face in this transformational process? What are the main benefits they experience?
NEIL: The questions ‘why am I here?’ and ‘what is my innate value?’ are extremely thought-provoking and challenging. They force appraisal at a far more profound level than ‘am I doing a good job?’ or ‘is my career on track?’.
So, for some people the response is, ‘I should not be here’, and they leave. For others the response is, ‘l should be here but I am not fulfilling my value in this role’ and for others the response is, ‘I should be here, I am delivering value but there is so much more to achieve’.
This creates a dynamic environment. However, the real challenge is to the organisation who have to – and who have to be seen to – support those who wish to stay to fulfill their potential aligned with purpose.
TIE: How can business leaders support this transformation in their employees? What kind of structural changes can catalyze this process ?
NEIL: To deliver on the challenge defined above, business leaders have to adopt a new ‘Transformational Blueprint’. The measure of success is a leadership and senior operational management working to one master – their shared purpose. This dissolves hierarchies, dismantles silos and devolves accountability.
The demands and requirements of a dynamic, innovative purpose-led organisation means that interdependence at the leadership and operational management levels is a necessity – not tokenism. For instance, how is value creation recognized and rewarded? When talent flows to create value or solve a customer problem, who is in charge? Which budget holders pay or benefit? How is knowledge captured and recycled to ensure it delivers customer value? What is more important – the stories of success or the financial review?
In essence, there needs to be a structural revolution where the assets of the organisation serve, rather than inhibit, the creation of purpose-defined value. It may be difficult to conceive, but leaders must lose control in order to gain control. They must move from measurement and management, from reports and meetings, from financial reviews and microscopic analysis to embedding the core Finance, Talent/Human Resources, Systems/IT, Communications and Operations capability inside value creation hubs. Applied resource in a dynamic, fluid, inventive enterprise aligned with purpose rather than fixed, static, self defining, non-aligned cost.
To conclude, the greatest cost of not becoming a purpose-led organisation is that of obsolescence. Purpose underwrites a future – for the business and for its people. And that is worth every step of what can be a challenging but always thrilling, transformational journey.