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Christoph Lueneburger Tells How to Have a 'Culture of Purpose'

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There are challenges that modern leaders cannot achieve without a culture of purpose. Building one will help attract the best minds and talent who are looking for meaning not simply employment. This has been an inspiration for me since I started my own ad agency. I've seen what a culture of purpose means. I named the agency StrawberryFrog to challenge the huge corporate ad agency dinosaurs who dominate and control the ad industry. Frogism was a purpose that helped us propel our company to the global arena, attract some of the world's best talent as well as iconic clients -- and, in 2011, APCO Worldwide, which bought a majority stake in the firm.

So I was keen to read A Culture Of Purpose, the new book by Christoph Lueneburger, who writes that more than any other factor, cultures of purpose power winning organizations, attracting the most passionate, most creative talent. I just finished the book and found it to be wonderful and inspiring, and a practical eye-opener.

A Culture of Purpose is about the how of building a thoughtful, inspiring, ambitious culture of purpose--the kind that can bring about sustainability in organzations such as Unilever, Chrysler and Walmart. In revealing Lueneburger's exclusive experience and in-depth dialogues with CEOs and board members, the book offers leaders concrete questions and approaches to tap and nurture their current corporate strengths and to craft their own culture of purpose.

Scrapping the notion that doing good implies doing less well, Lueneburger dedicates a full chapter to the connection between commercial drive and cultures of purpose in today's fast-paced world, writing that "Commercial drive is the oxygen of business: innocuous when plentiful and painful when in short supply. Indeed, many economists would say that profit is the yardstick to fitness. And sustainability has often been positioned wrongly as counter to commercial drive." As with every chapter in A Culture Of Purpose, this one ends with an actionable list of "What to look for" and "How to look for it".

Reading this book one understands that the author has been studying his topic deeply based on a vast array of experiences with senior leaders. Some of these have delivered breakthrough performances by committing to a purpose; others are seeking their way to the same destination. Lueneburger told me that he wrote the book because too often we seek to bridge the gap between reality and aspiration by focusing on a leader and his or her skills rather than understanding the organizational readiness and cultural required to get there. It is with a culture of purpose, Lueneburger writes, that dynamic and powerful organizations realize their potential. And such cultures, he shows, can be built not only from scratch - as with StrawberryFrog - but also in fully-formed companies like Owens Corning.

Purpose is a big subject to take on. Jim Stengal, the former CMO of P&G recently wrote a book entitled "Grow" which evaluates hundreds of companies, and demonstrates how purpose driven brands outperform old-fashioned brands. In my recent book, Uprising, I wrote about fifty organizations that use cultural movements - connected to purpose driven ideas -- to engage millions of people, again as a strategy that affects growth, business stewardship and in the end success. Daniel Pink's book "Drive" explored purpose and much of what he wrote about substantiates the motivations for this new book on the culture of purpose. Pink said: People want a purpose-filled life and work and couples it with the other two concepts of autonomy and mastery.

But Lueneburger goes further. The most effective leaders of our time, he contends, will be builders of cultures of purpose. To make his point, he interviewed leading sustainability officers and CEOs who use purpose to drive a vision of the world that is different from the rest. What becomes clear is that in inspiring the hearts and minds of people, purpose becomes core of the culture itself.

I'm interested in purpose. I use this thinking in my work when defining movement marketing strategies or purpose marketing strategies for my clients. A Culture Of Purpose shows how to bring about lasting change in an organization, and how to build our own cultures powered by purpose.

I loved this easy to read and inspiring book. Two thumbs up.