Purpose by Nikos Mourkogiannis [Book Summary – Review]

In the eyes of many, business is unfair. Many of us get the impression that companies and their executives are entirely focused on maximizing profits at any cost. They mercilessly disregard anybody or everything that stands in their way, including the environment, consumers, and employees.

However, this isn’t always the case. These blinks demonstrate that if a company is only interested in making money, it will never succeed. Having a set of values or purposes that give them the motivation and desire to achieve is the only way they can get there.

Almost all of these ideals result from centuries of tradition and philosophical discussion. These chapters provide you with an overview of the most common types of purpose and illustrate how organizations like IBM and Walmart have successfully used them. This will spare you from having to slog through the writings of Nietzsche and Aristotle.

The following chapters will show you:

  • The reasons why Warren Buffett isn’t motivated by money;
  • Why did Henry Ford’s autocratic behavior help him prosper; and
  • Why the well-being of others is a primary concern for many of the finest leaders.

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Chapter 1 – You may secure the long-term success of your business by creating a set of moral principles to live and operate by.

Why do some people have more business success than others? Yes, economic acumen and charm have a significant role, but they do not tell the entire tale. The moral principles that govern a company’s mission are essential for long-term success.

The purpose is the moral compass that guides our decisions, whether they are made in routine situations or when the stakes are considerably higher. With intention, we may distinguish between decisions that are morally appropriate and beneficial vs those that are simple or legally valid.

Let’s consider this in concrete terms. Do you want to maximize your profits or service your customers? Sam Walton, the man who founded Wal-Mart, could respond to this query without hesitation.

Walton was committed to helping his clients because he was motivated by compassion and generosity. His feeling of purpose was palpable across the entire organization. Everyone at Wal-Mart, from senior management to shop employees, was prepared to put the needs of customers first. This provided Wal-Mart an advantage over its rivals, which it consistently outperforms.

Without a purpose, you’ll just consider the short term while making judgments; strategy alone won’t cut it. Consider Enron, a company whose demise was one of the greatest corporate bankruptcy cases in American history.

They had plans, but no clear goal. All they cared about was generating money, and they would stop at nothing to do it. Poor decisions were made as a result, resulting in risky tactics and hiding losses. Predictably, Enron’s activities ultimately came back to haunt them, demonstrating how risky an aimless strategy can be.

Chapter 2 – Discoveries-driven leaders take ownership of their decisions and are always asking new questions.

You now understand the meaning of purpose and its significance. So how do you get it? Well, there are four distinct ways that purpose may be expressed, and each of these ways derives from ethical traditions that have evolved through the work of many philosophers from Classical Greece to the current age. Let’s begin with the motivation for discovery.

This goal is related to the existentialists’ and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s work, which provides compelling justifications for the ethic of choice. It is simply insufficient, according to Kierkegaard, to conceal oneself behind laws and customs and place the responsibility there for problems. Individuals are in charge of their own decisions instead.

To demonstrate this idea, Kierkegaard draws on the biblical story of Isaac’s sacrifice. You may be aware that Abraham, encouraged by an angel, decides to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham asserts that God is the one commanding him to do this, but in the end, it is Abraham’s decision and only he can be held accountable.

The only people who can be held accountable for our actions are us. So what does this concept have to do with discovering new things? In any case, French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre expands on this notion and suggests that since we are accountable for our acts, we should continually reflect on the situation and make the best possible decisions.

We should constantly be prepared to inquire, innovate, and consider the best option available to us by utilizing the goal of discovery as our compass.

This very mentality is what drove IBM’s Tom Watson on his quest for something “beyond our present imagination.” Watson’s quest for knowledge motivated him and his colleagues to approach problems from several perspectives, as existentialists advise.

THINK was chosen as IBM’s catchphrase to emphasize the significance of breaking with precedent and convention to come up with fresh solutions to customers’ challenges. IBM even made the deliberate decision to hire primarily recent college graduates, ensuring that the status quo was consistently challenged.

Chapter 3 – Strive for excellence and cultivate the qualities that will help you perform at your highest level.

You must put new and creative company ideas into practice as effectively as possible after you have found them. Let’s talk about our second goal, excellence. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, devised the virtue ethic that is associated with it.

Aristotle concluded that humans develop virtues as a method to prosper and reach their ultimate end: satisfaction. The condition of contentment, prosperity, and thriving was specifically described by Aristotle as eudaimonia, and according to him, this was the purpose of Man. 

Eudaimonia may be attained by doing your job or function in a community to the best of your ability. But to get there, you had to cultivate virtues or good qualities; these may vary from bravery and dignity to wit. Although the specific list of qualities varies based on your current environment, the time investment required to acquire them is what matters most.

Warren Buffett, a successful investor, is a beautiful illustration of the meaning of brilliance in action. He has worked hard to cultivate the qualities that the finest investors require throughout his career to find fulfillment in his community.

His primary responsibility in life is deploying funds in a way that maximizes return on equity. Buffett defines success as doing that position to the best of one’s ability; he pursues greatness, not for financial gain but its purpose. For example, in comparison to his contemporaries, he earns a pretty small wage.

Buffet devotes his entire life to making outstanding investments. He improved his mental math abilities, for instance, such that he can now recall all 7,500 stockholders and 2,000 annual reports. Buffet has made $40 billion because of his commitment to perfection.

Chapter 4 – Altruistic leaders work to make as many people happy as possible.

David Hume, a Scottish historian, and philosopher is best known for creating a compassion ethic. This relates to the goal of altruism.

Hume believed that the primary reason for any activity is to make others happier. Although it may sound hedonistic or selfish, our ability to make others and ourselves happy ultimately determines how happy we are. We have a built-in capacity for empathy, according to Hume.

Through his utilitarian philosophy, which holds that the proper course of conduct produces the greatest amount of pleasure for the largest number of people, Adam Smith expanded on this idea. Therefore, the possibility of causing others pain or pleasure motivates our behavior.

In this approach, successful decision-making, especially in a corporate environment, depends on the capacity for empathy. We learned how Wal-Mart reaches its level of success in the first blink. To make as many consumers as possible happy, company founder Sam Walton took judgments that were in line with his altruistic motives.

Walton was born and raised in a rural, underdeveloped part of Arkansas. His upbringing instilled in him a strong feeling of empathy that drove him to want to assist as many people as he could. How? through expanding access to affordable, high-quality items to raise living standards.

Instead of raising his profit margins if his buyers received an unusually excellent bargain, he would pass as much of the benefit forward to the clients as he could. He made sure that this objective was communicated to lower levels of the organization. To allow managers to concentrate on the needs of regional clients across the US, management information systems were created.

The clients are at the core of everything Wal-Mart does, making Walton the David Hume of contemporary American business!

Chapter 5 – Heroic leaders utilize their foresight to take humanity into uncharted territory.

The German philosopher Nietzsche’s writings may be difficult for some of us to understand, yet they include one of the most important ethical principles for business leaders: heroism. This is more than just the drive to triumph; it’s also the courage to take a risk and do something that no one else has.

Nietzsche thought that only a small number of individuals are fully free and so capable of governing. People who lack these talents tend to follow people who have leadership qualities. But those who do show them will understand that they should use their influence and assume a leadership position with desire.

Henry Ford is a fantastic illustration of a leader who has heroism as his goal. He wanted to use his car to change society, and his ambition drove him to utilize his business to carry out his agenda.

Ford has no interest in making concessions or adhering to accepted business procedures. Instead of waiting for clients to express their needs, he provided them with what they weren’t even aware they wanted. Ford continued to develop his goods with the unwavering conviction that they would alter the course of history.

Ford, however, was more concerned with displaying his authority than with how it would affect his company’s course or societal welfare, which occasionally caused him to make reckless choices. He hired ex-convicts to work on his manufacturing line because he was so motivated to change the car business and to help them get back on their feet. Ford even went so far as to hire thugs from Detroit, which caused issues with workplace physical violence.

In this manner, becoming a hero is a noble goal, but it may also go out of control if it isn’t balanced with other moral standards. Discovery, greatness, generosity, and heroism all interact to benefit your business in different ways. Find out how by reading on!

Chapter 6 – Finding your company’s purpose may boost morale and make it a fantastic place to work.

According to Prussian commander and military thinker Carl von Clausewitz, moral considerations in conflict are “the precious metal, the genuine weapon, the finely-honed blade,” whereas physical ones are “nothing more than the wooden hilt.” The same holds for companies.

Similar to how troops with good morale are more likely to prevail in war, businesses with high morale also tend to be more successful. A 2003 research by the insurance firm Towers Perrin discovered a connection between high shareholder returns and staff morale.

Therefore, the more satisfied your people are at work, the more likely it is that your business will generate larger profits. Additionally, if workers don’t enjoy working there, your business’ performance may suffer: According to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers research from 2002, there is a strong association between absenteeism, which is associated with low morale, and profit levels that are below average.

But how can you make sure that your staff members are motivated to do their jobs? Defining the goals of your business is a good method to provide them with motivation to execute their jobs.

Consider the American multinational company 3M, which is well-known for its adhesives. The engineers at the organization believed in the idea that the company’s goal was to address issues. One engineer, in particular, was so eager to solve a client’s problem that he ended up developing a completely new type of masking tape, which would eventually result in the Scotch Tape we all have in our desk drawers presently.

The Post-it Note was created by another worker at the same firm to address his issue of being unable to locate the proper page in his hymnal. These workers were motivated to go above and beyond to make a difference by just having a purpose, and in the process, they produced the things that we all know and love.

Chapter 7 – Innovation is shaped and strengthened by purpose.

The most inventive businesses frequently appear to be the most prosperous ones. Innovation is a fantastic competitive advantage, but without a clear goal to guide it, it won’t lead to long-term success.

Global consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton polled the top a thousand businesses with the biggest R&D spending budgets. Many were surprised by the survey’s finding that there was no connection between innovation and business success.

So what maintains the leadership of the creative businesses? Well, a lot of them use the need for discovery to propel their successes. 

Sony is a good example. To “create a place of work where engineers may feel the thrill of technical advancements, be mindful of their purpose to society, and work to their hearts’ delight,” firm founder Masaru Ibuka started the business. The early Sony team’s ability to be freely inventive was made possible by this distinct aim, and their voyage of invention started with Japan’s first tape recorder.

Innovative thinkers may take extreme risks and alter the norms of their industries or enterprises when they have a clear purpose. Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, motivated by his desire to provide customers with the most reasonable prices possible, radically reinvented his industry. 

He would try to cut costs as much as possible during buying trips, even at the expense of losing staff, to maintain low prices for his clients. His workers shared hotel rooms and preferred to walk over using cabs.

Walton even made the decision to establish stores in abandoned cattle yards and bottling facilities, taking the chance of having a less appealing appearance than rival K-Mart while yet maintaining competitive rates.

Chapter 8 – Businesses that have a purpose are better competitors.

Everyone wants to know the specific strategy for winning the race. Although there isn’t a foolproof method, strategic positioning is one of the greatest ways for your business to gain a competitive edge that will last over the long term. This only implies that your business must occupy a unique place in the market that neither competitors nor buyers can pick.

Although it’s true that’s easier said than done, it is nonetheless feasible! Creating habits and connections is the first step. You may unify your business under a potent, distinctive strategy by synchronizing what employees do and how they interact with one another.

A corporation without direction is more prone to make unnecessary strategy changes. Companies are unlikely to consistently gain an advantage over rivals by moving between multiple tactical strategies in the hopes that one will stay. Companies without a defined mission may sometimes adhere to outdated techniques even when they are no longer effective.

Your organization’s routines and connections will be a lot easier to organize if you have a clear aim in mind. Your staff should follow the ideals of discovery, benevolence, excellence, and heroism in all of their interactions and tasks.

Warren Buffett was able to run his business with a little touch because of a trustworthy, common understanding developed via values. He didn’t need to instruct his staff on proper behavior because they were already aware of it from his system of values.

The countless daily choices that affect a company’s strategic position in the market may be reliably guided by purpose. When your business has clear objectives in place, questions like “Should we invest in product development?” or “What kind of training should we give our customer-facing staff?” are simple to resolve. 

Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies by Nikos Mourkogiannis Book Review

You’ll need values that serve as your road signs if you want your business to be a market leader, a trailblazer in innovation, or a fantastic place to work. For some of the most prosperous business executives in the world, the four objectives of discovery, excellence, altruism, and heroism have proven to be potent instruments. Why not start applying them to your vision?

Discover the motivation behind your actions.

Are you passionate about learning new things? Or do you aspire to achieve success simply for the sake of it? Do you want to act bravely to change the world or do you want to offer solutions that will benefit the greatest number of people? Consider the motivation behind your behavior to gain insight into how to apply it to your business. 

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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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