Insights Mar 25, 2015

There’s so much data around you may have missed some really interesting numbers.

Let me cover them off for you in 2 ways — first by looking at some research done by Harvard Business Review (HBR); second by looking at some ‘gut-feel research’ done by a man who’s been turning business on its head.

Both sets of numbers, though derived from quite different sources, lead to a very similar place.


Now let’s begin this with a word of ‘qualification’ — the participants in the study were skewed — they were all either HBR readers or clients of Ernst and Young.

That said, the numbers speak volumes:

  • 87% believe companies perform best over time if their purpose goes beyond profit.
  • Purpose-driven organisations are believed to have better results across a variety of measures: 89% say they encourage greater employee satisfaction, 85% point to better customer advocacy and 81% suggest it results in higher quality products and services
  • With so much emphasis going on around innovation and transformation it’s important to see that 84% believe their transformation efforts will be more successful if integrated with purpose.
  • Here’s the one stat that leaves scope for a big improvement: purpose is being under-leveraged. Only 37% say their business model and operations are well-aligned with their purpose.

And many of us don’t need numbers like this to know: purpose …. and getting on it …… is crucial. We see it every day here in B1G1: Business for Good.

So from those numbers, let’s go to another one. A seemingly innocuous one: 4.1

It’s a number used recently by Ricardo Semler. You may remember him (particularly if you’ve ‘been around’ for a while). In 1993 his book, Maverick, hit the shelves. It’s stunning. Get it if you haven’t yet.

You can get a taste for it by watching this recent (and absolutely brilliant) TED talk right here:


And although you’ll want to watch the whole thing, for me it gets its most magical at 12 minutes 58 seconds in.

Here’s the official transcript for you.

“I accumulated a lot of money when I think about it. When you think and you say, now is the time to give back — well, if you’re giving back, you took too much. (Laughter) (Applause)

I keep thinking of Warren Buffet waking up one day and finding out he has 30 billion dollars more than he thought he had. And he looks and he says, what am I going to do with this? And he says, I’ll give it to someone who really needs this. I’ll give it to Bill Gates. (Laughter)

And my guy, who’s my financial advisor in New York, he says, look, you’re a silly guy because you would have 4.1 times more money today if you had made money with money instead of sharing as you go. But I like sharing as you go better. (Applause)”

There’s that 4.1 number.

But like you perhaps, I like the last line better — ‘I LIKE SHARING AS YOU GO BETTER.’

Seriously, what about you?

Paul Dunn

Paul is the chairman and biggest supporter of B1G1. He frequently travels around the world inspiring businesses with B1G1 and his amazing business insights.

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