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A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You Hardcover – April 7, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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From the Publisher

Christoph Lueneburger

Q&A with Christoph Lueneburger, author of A Culture of Purpose
What is a culture of purpose?

Culture, at its core, is the set of beliefs and customs—the kinds of thinking and behaving—that characterize a group of people. Organizations have cultures also, and purpose introduces a shared vision with impact beyond the organization itself. A culture of purpose inspires a meaningful number of people to do the “right” things in pursuit of a bold, inspirational ideal (rather than committing them to do things right in service of self-centered metrics, like profitable growth or shareholder value). Cultures of purpose are not theoretical constructs: you’ll know them by the passion and intent of their people, the trust among them, and their intolerance of cynicism.

A number of books have been written on sustainability. How is yours different? You use the phrase “sustainable business” often? What do you mean by the term? Why are cultures of purpose built with sustainability in mind? Can any organization build a culture of purpose?

I did not set out to write a book on sustainability, but rather one that describes successful, lasting organizational cultures that have toppled business-as-usual. Because sustainability is so vital to such organizations and the people who shape them, it’s fair to ask how this book is different. Lots of books have been written about sustainability, some very good. These books are largely about the “why” and the “how” of sustainability. But the “how” can be fleeting in the sense that yesterday’s best practice quickly becomes today’s common practice. A Culture of Purpose pursues a different route by focusing on the “who” and the “where”—it offers an actionable description of the kinds of people who build lasting organizations and the kinds of places that attract them. Once you bring such people into a culture that embraces them, in my experience, the “how” will take care of itself. A sustainable business is one that both continuously asks itself what it will take to stay true to its purpose and is prepared to act on whatever the answer implies, even if difficult or uncomfortable. Although that’s usually simple, it is rarely easy because this kind of business surrenders a good bit of its hierarchy. Its leaders push far more autonomy to the frontier—the warehouses and check-out counters— and have learned to be comfortable with the notion of distributed experimentation and failure as the price of nimbleness and innovation. This autonomy is justified because the best and most passionate people are as much attracted by the purpose of the organization as they are aligned by it. Wherever that balance works, the business is very likely to last. Cultures of purpose can be built in different ways. Sustainability is one of those ways; it just happens to be the most consistently effective one. That’s because being sustainable as a business, at its core, not only requires thinking both long-term and integratively but also reveals organizational values, or perhaps more accurately the value placed on things other than the next quarterly profits. It is those values that attract passionate people, and it is those people who substantiate and further shape the culture. Yes, so long as it is prepared to ask difficult questions and pursue the change implicit in answering them. For some organizations, to be fair, doing so will lead to the conclusion that they need to fundamentally change the business they are in. But once you get a critical mass of the right kinds of people, the momentum is on your side because they will ask the difficult questions. And they will claim their right to take action. If you, as a leader, can get comfortable bringing on and empowering such people, you have the ingredients for a culture of purpose.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118814568
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118814567
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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