Higher Purpose (of organizations) 

Virtually all of our societal organizations seem to have either forgotten or have never really known why they exist and what their higher purposes are. Instead, they have often elevated narrow individual and institutional self-interest into the only purposes that they recognize as valid. Our governments all too frequently serve the interests of the politicians, the public service unions, and various other special interests rather than their citizens.

Our schools too often serve their educational bureaucracy and teachers unions instead of their students and their parents. Our health care system too often seeks to maximize the profits of pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies rather than the health and wellness of patients. Many of our corporations primarily exist to maximize the compensation of their executives and, secondarily, shareholder value rather than value creation for customers, employees, and other major stakeholders.

The single most important requirement for the creation of higher levels of trust for any organization is to discover or rediscover the higher purpose of the organization. Why does the organization exist? What is it trying to accomplish? What core values will inspire the organization and create greater trust from all of its members?

While there are potentially as many different purposes as there are organizations, I believe that great organizations have great purposes. The highest ideals that humans aspire to should be the same ideals that our organizations also have as their highest purposes. These include such timeless ideals as:

  • The Good: Service to others—improving health, education, communication, and the quality of life.
  • The True: Discovery and furthering human knowledge.
  • The Beautiful: Excellence and the creation of beauty.
  • The Heroic: Courage to do what is right to change and improve the world.

Organizations that place such higher purposes at the very core of their business model tend to inspire trust from all of their members and the larger communities in which they exist. Higher purpose and shared core values tend to unify the organization behind their fulfillment and usually act to pull the overall organization upwards to a higher degree of ethical commitment. Higher levels of trust are a natural result of this unity of purpose, shared core values, and greater ethical commitment.

Source: www.honolulufreemasons.org.pillar-talk, 2011


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