New ways to codify purpose

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And then what happens?

Many small businesses start with generosity and good intent at their core. But it’s a rough ride, and especially when outside funding is involved, it’s easy to get seduced by the bright lights of Milton Friedman and an obsession with short-term profits.

Over time, purpose starts to fade. The urgencies and demands of quarterly results, the opportunities for growth followed by more growth make it ever more difficult to stick with what we set out to do in the first place.

This post from Ari Weinzweig highlights a different way to stay on track, adding a level of structure to the good intent. It takes the sometimes mushy language of a B Corp and makes it legally and permanently part of the deal.

By codifying the structure from the start, we’re creating organizations that have boundaries. Boundaries aren’t necessarily a defect–they can be a feature. A boundary gives us something to lean against (leverage) and it also communicates to our constituents exactly what we’re here to do.

For a long time, we’ve been evolving in only one direction–companies that seek nothing but short-term investor returns, but do a lot of hand-waving along the way.

In a post-industrial business environment where people are more important than machines and where the consequence of our work are more vivid, it makes sense to bring intent to the forefront and keep it there.



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