It's Time to Balance Profits and Purpose
What makes a company a success? Is it profits? That seems like a likely candidate for the answer but if money is all your business is concerned about then in all likelihood your company isn’t doing much to contribute to society and you will garner the similar money obsessed stigma of the banks that occurred as a result of the financial crisis and made more public by the floundering Occupy Wall Street “movement”. The other extreme answer to the original question would be that a successful company has a clear and defined purpose, whether it is to create something, bring about a change, or some other specific goal. The common goal is something that can be used to have all the employees of a company rally behind and seek motivation from. That sounds great but if people only followed their passion with an ignorance to pragmatism than no companies would survive. Indeed, if Steve Jobs followed his passion he would have been a monk at a Buddhist monetary or something similar. Similarly, the answer is a “middle way” a path that blends both purpose driven work and awareness of the reality that a profit must be made to keep the company running and enabling it and your ideas to grow. Harvard Business Review continues, “In 2003, Dr. Jeffrey Spahn wrote "A New Capitalist Manifesto? Imagining Business in the 21st Century." It focuses on the need to — and value of — balancing profit with purpose, and it contained a prediction: businesses in the future will recognize that the most successful companies are the ones that recognize the relationship, and can strike the appropriate balance, between higher purpose and financial success.
"What needs to emerge, and in some circles is emerging," he wrote," is what I call a mutual, or reciprocal, economy that focuses on the needs of both the individual and the collective." Spahn also challenged business to "define a more integral and profitable reason for existence. By doing so, business leaders can avoid being on the defensive, fend off more government intervention, move to restore public trust and take significant steps toward enduring profitability." In 2003, through independent research and conversations with executives, Spahn noted that about half of the corporate executives he spoke to defined the purpose of business as simply this: maximizing shareholder worth. The other half believed their business purpose was to contribute to the well-being of society. This might happen by meeting customers' needs, by developing people, by working for a specific cause, or by making the world a better place through the organization's philosophies or actions. But one thing was very clear: the two positions were strongly held and emotionally laden, on both sides…”
Source - Harvard Business Review