Profits or Purpose

A common perception is that a business exists to make money. While profits are critical to maintaining operations and delivering value to customers and investors, they are only one indicator of success. In my experience, profit without purpose is pointless and unsustainable.

Without purpose, an organization is a rudderless ship floating in a sea of endless possibilities without direction. “Where are we going and why are we headed there?” Without purpose, profits are short-lived.

When Amazon first began they lost a lot of money. The joke was that they would make up those losses with volume. Their purpose has been “To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” By focusing on their purpose, not profits, they are now one of the most valuable and successful companies in the world.

Turning the lemons of change into lemonade depends on clarity of purpose. Without purpose, the lemons of change are bitter disruptions. When change is guided by purpose and driven by the desire to continue delivering value when circumstances have changed, those same lemons of change become sweet and refreshing.


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