Purpocracy – The Business Hierarchy of The Future

In Purpose, Mission & Values

As quickly as business models and methodologies have evolved over the past few hundred years, so too have styles of management. The industrial revolution brought mechanization to allow workers to produce more “whats” for more “who’s” and leading these factories and industries were powerful men (almost exclusively men) who led with fear and punishment. It was their way or the highway. This Autocracy reigned for as long as the power was held by the powerful few.

The digital revolution democratized the landscape in many businesses. Industries like publishing, music distribution and retail were no longer the exclusive preserve of large corporations.  Small, lean teams, often remote, were the new normal, allowing for ideas to come from any aspect of an organization, removing the decision-making shackles of old.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos has garnered quite a bit of press recently with the introduction of Holacracy, a new way of running an organization that removes power from a management hierarchy and distributes it across clear roles, which can then be executed autonomously, without a micromanaging boss. Still in its infancy, it remains to be seen whether this shift in style will work for Zappos and other organizations adopting it.

There are clearly merits and disadvantages to any of these systems and businesses may find that some combination of them works best. What is clear to me is that the rise of the purpose-driven brand requires a shift in thinking, management and measurement. In order for a business to succeed in the long term, it cannot depend on a single leader to captain the ship, it needs successive successful leaders, and as companies grow to have more and more layers between top floor and ground floor, a clear sense of purpose is needed to allow for decision making that aligns not just with the mission and vision of the company, but its very purpose. The kind of company that is lead by its purpose and lives up to this purpose through every facet of the organization is what we are terming a Purpocracy.

Purpocracies survive economic downturns by aligning their purpose with the purpose of their audiences, not just the basic tangible needs de jour. Purpocracies don’t require a personality to lead, but rather the purpose leads the personalities. Purpocracies have a very clear direction and therefore, a very clear understanding of the people and processes needed to achieve their goals.

Because of a very clear understanding of their role in the world, Purpocracies know that they have both an opportunity and an obligation to improve their world as much as their bottom line.

A Purpocracy is not just a synonym for philanthropy but rather a formula for long-term business success, aligned with the core needs of its employees, owners, and audiences.

To be continued….

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Barry-028 2Barry Chandler is the co-founder of Storyforge, a brand strategy company focused on helping companies discover their purpose to allow them achieve their vision, build preference and drive margin. Barry has been building award winning businesses since launching his first company in Ireland in 2003. His last company, a digital marketing agency, was acquired in 2012 by a California based publicly traded entertainment company which then hired him as Chief Marketing Officer. It is his belief that the greatest brands seek to change the world, improving the lives of their associates, partners and customers.