Meaning & Purpose: The Living Organization Model

Earlier today I listened to Norman Wolfe talk about The Living Organization Model.  It was a courageous presentation that really resonated with me and put into words concepts that are often hard to explain.

The Living Organization™ ModelWolfe is the CEO of Quantum Leaders, a consulting firm.  He spoke at the CEO Roundtable, a regular event sponsored by Montgomery & Hansen, in Menlo Park. These events are always worth attending, but this one was particularly good.

Meaning & Purpose

During his presentation, Wolfe mentioned that both Boomers and Millennials, the folks at the high-end and low-end of most organizations today, are openly yearning/demanding meaning and purpose in their lives (and, no, there’s no such thing as “personal” and “work” lives—check: you only have one body).

With this observation, I think that Norman has put his finger on why there seems to be more and more open talk of terms and concepts that have been verboten or, at least, not taken seriously in the past (e.g., “meaning” and “purpose” and even−gasp−”spirituality”). This cross-generational convergence is starting to have an impact in today’s organizations, and it’s going to be more so.  Stay tuned.

Wolfe’s talk reminded me of a book I read recently, Start with Why by Simon Sinek (which I highly recommend).  Sinek’s thesis is that people won’t rally around a company’s products, but they can become downright fervent by a company’s why, its cause.  (Not surprisingly, they both use Apple as their main example.  You can watch Simon Sinek talk at the TEDxPugetSound.

Wolfe talked about a similar concept with three layers: activity, relationship and content.

Diffusion of Innovations

During the Q&A that followed his presentation, Wolfe mentioned that he’s been heavily influenced by Everett RogersDiffusion of Innovations.  Through five editions, this book has been highly influential; aspects of it have been popularized by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm and Emanuel Rosen in The Anatomy of Buzz, among others.

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