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Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies Hardcover – October 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Leadership consultant Mourkogiannis calls upon CEOs to invest their companies with high-minded ideas rather than strictly bottom-line concerns by discovering their "Purpose." But the definition of Purpose remains vague throughout this rhapsodical account-it's a kind of "moral DNA" that affects-but should not be mistaken for-corporate mission, vision, values and identity. Centered on case studies of five entrepreneurs-Henry Ford, Tom Watson, Sam Walton, Siegmund Warburg, and Warren Buffett-who "were driven by Purpose to innovate in a radical way," the volume makes philosophical rather than concrete links between Purpose and morale, innovation, competitive strategy and branding. The connection between Purpose and success, for example, is hardly buttressed by Mourkogiannis's examples. He laments, for instance, that Wal-Mart has gone astray since Walton's death-and yet the company remains hugely profitable. The author urges CEOs to aim for "the satisfaction that comes from yoking good corporate citizenship and high purpose to produce record profits and a noble place in the eyes of the world," but his pie-in-the-sky, Nietzschean principles may provoke less action than soul-searching. With a foreword by Roger Fisher, author of Getting to Yes.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Challenging and thought-provoking." -- Accounting & Business Magazine

"Filled with 'Aha!' moments." -- Dallas Morning News

"Nikos Mourkogiannis shows leaders the way to set direction and navigate the tides of growth and change." -- --Ralph W. Shrader, Booz Allen Hamilton

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403975817
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403975812
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Obviously, there is a direct link between motivation and purpose, and, between purpose and behavior. Obviously, motives, purposes, and behavior varied significantly among those centrally involved in events which occurred on September 11, 2001. Some flew planes into buildings to kill as many people and create as much damage as possible; others (passengers aboard United flight 93) sacrificed their own lives to save others'. My point is, that there are all kinds of purposes...and then there is Purpose as Nikos Mourkogiannis defines it: "Purpose is your moral DNA. It's what you believe without having to think. It's the answer you give when you're asked for the right - as opposed to the factually correct - answer."

Mourkogiannis carefully organizes his material within three Parts. In the first, he introducing the dimensions of what he considers Purpose to be, explains its real value, and then suggests what Purpose is not. In the second, he shares "great stories" of Purpose, citing as examples, Thomas Watson, Sr., Warren Buffett, Sam Walton, Henry Ford, and Siegmund Warburg. Then in Part III, Mourkogiannis explains how Purpose builds greatness. And examines its relationship, indeed its interdependence with a high level of morale, breakthrough innovation, competitive advantage, effective leadership, and productive action.

Ford exemplifies those who have purposes which are both admirable and contemptible. When testifying as a defendant in a lawsuit, he was asked what he was trying to do. "Ford replied that he was trying to employ as many workers as he could, give them good wages, provide the public the benefit of a low-priced car, and `incidentally make money.'" He lost the case. However, over time, "Ford's Purpose devolved into a non-competitive strategy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wendy S on February 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book's singular message is this: to succeed and win, great companies need to have a purpose that has a moralistic bent to it that everyone can jump on board with and follow. This purpose will drive your strategy and values (which will come effortlessly after you figure out what your purpose is.)

This is different from the over-done and often useless "mission" and also different from the a-moralistic "vision" which sets out a path for the future. Purpose by contrast, puts a stake in the ground about what your company believes in at its core. Purpose is a direction for the company but not necessarily a snapshot of its destination. It provides a clear path whereby you can check all activities against (is what I'm doing in line w/ the purpose?).

Nikos argues that Purpose is not merely a motivational tool but an objective in itself that can be enduring. A company's purpose can change over time - perhaps with the change of leaders like Welch to Immelt (who went back to the "discovery" angle). Also leaders (like Steve Jobs) can take a purpose from company to company over his career.

The book takes you through the journey of defining what is a purpose vs. a mission and a vision, and gives you examples you can sink your teeth into. He lays out four main types of purpose and examples of companies that are each:
1) Discovery - rooted in intuition that life is a kind of adventure. Example: Apple and their goal to always come up with the new / most innovative products (esp. in comparison to Microsoft who clearly follows a different path).
2) Excellence - implies standards and purports the belief that excellent performance in our role in life represents the supreme good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Valtin on April 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nikos Mourkogiannis nails it down with this book, PURPOSE. A very well written, informative and no non-sense work which will inspire every purpose-driven entrepreneur. I personally appreciated a lot the chapter "Purpose and Morale." This is so true that people will work harder and better in a purpose-driven environment. In my 20+ years of experience in training and coaching business owners from all over the world, I have observed and witnessed what a good, strong and ethical purpose can do to a business and its employees.

I strongly recommend this book to every business starter as well as to every executive who works hard at raising his/her business competitiveness. It is a tough world out there and PURPOSE can help. In fact, if you duplicate Mr. Mourkogiannis' intentions and attempted message, you will definitely see a big change in your profitability.

Patrick Valtin,
President/CEO M2-TEC USA, Inc.
Author of the book "No Fail Hiring."
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Format: Hardcover
While billions of people go to work daily, few have any sense of the ideals that drive their companies. That's no surprise. Few companies have any. Enter Nikos Mourkogiannis, with this inspirational and informative book on one of the business world's biggest problems. Companies without a purpose are rudderless, which is a problem for shareholders, employees, suppliers and customers. "Purpose" is a difficult concept to explain because it is so abstract, but patient readers will benefit from Mourkogiannis' insights and research. He occasionally gets bogged down in philosophical discussion, which he has trouble connecting to his profiles of purposeful business leaders. Nevertheless, his detours are tolerable, since they ultimately lead you to a new view of leadership. We recommend this study to CEOs, aspiring CEOs and iconoclastic business students.
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