Purpose News: February 2017

by Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch. Follow us on Twitter: @PurposeMatch and @AndrewRip

Here’s some interesting news from around the world on the topics of purpose and social impact…

Zuckerberg and His Wife Gather the Best Scientists and Engineers to Find the Cure for All Diseases

Talk about an ambitious goal! Cure all diseases? Well, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, believe that we can "cure, prevent or manage all disease during our children’s lifetime.”

To do so, they've launched a $3 billion initiative, and hired 47 of the brightest minds to compose a medical research organization called Biohub.

Biohub is a diverse group of scientists, technologists, engineers whose work vary from imaging cells, developing biochip technology, and studying the transmission of malaria. They come from three key premier research universities Berkley, UCF, and Stanford. According to the organization, the three university partners provide the very backbone of Biohub’s work. “Our investigators come from these outstanding research institutions, and their faculty will be an integral part of our day-to-day operations here at Biohub,” it said. More scientists from other research institutions will be added on to Biohub as the organization grows.

Staying on the topic of Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard Business Review wrote a leadership article titled "What Mark Zuckerberg Understands About Corporate Purpose"

The article takes a look at Mark Zuckerberg the nearly 6,000-word letter that he published as a defense of both globalization and Facebook’s business model. In it, he argued that Facebook thrives under a globalized socioeconomic system, where barriers to information, labor, capital, and products are minimal.

The rest of the article, by George Serafeim, Professor at the Harvard Business School, takes the lessons from Zuckerberg, and illustrates how to craft a good statement of corporate purpose.

Research by myself and others has shown that purposeful organizations outperform their competitors; in his letter Zuckerberg is clearly attempting to outline a sense of purpose for Facebook. But research also suggeststhat people have a large degree of cynicism toward business leaders who speak about purpose. Senior management tends to have a greater sense of purpose than middle management, who in turn have a greater sense of purpose than lower-level employees. Senior management may try to cultivate a sense of purpose, but employees are generally not buying what they are selling.

Zuckerberg’s letter offers a lesson in how the purpose of an organization can be communicated in an authentic way. His treatise does several things well, including making purpose specific to the organization, articulating the how, identifying market voids, accounting for competitive positioning, measuring what matters, committing to mastery and progress, and acknowledging challenges.

The rest of Serafeim's article outlines practical steps on how to build purpose into your organization. Great read!

The Rise of AI Makes Emotional Intelligence More Important

And finally, sticking with our futuristic theme, we once again look at an article in the Harvard Business Review, which I believe is particularly relevant to those who are designing their lives and careers for the next 20, 30, or 40 years.

We all know that Artificial Intelligence, automation, and robots are going to
massively disrupt the future of the global economy. Lots of jobs will disappear forever, while new jobs will be created that we can't even imagine yet. So how do we stay relevant in this new economic frontier that we're entering? Focus on developing the skills that technology will never be able to replace. The qualities that make us human. We're talking about emotional intelligence.

The booming growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), like most transformational technologies, is both exciting and scary. It’s exciting to consider all the ways our lives may improve, from managing our calendars to making  medical diagnoses, but it’s scary to consider the social and personal implications — and particularly the implications for our careers. As machine learning continues to grow, we all need to develop new skills in order to differentiate ourselves. But which ones?

It continues...

It’s these human capabilities that will become more and more prized over the next decade.  Skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over our other tasks.  Unfortunately, these human-oriented skills have generally been viewed as second priority in terms of training and education.  We’ve all experienced the doctor, financial planner, or consultant who is more focused on his or her reports and data than on our unique situations and desires.

For better or worse, these skills will become essential to anyone who wants to stay relevant in their field as automated systems proliferate.  We have three recommendations:

  • Don’t fight the progress of technology. Machine learning and AI have the ability to improve outcomes and lower cost — so don’t fight the robots. Welcome the change in your industry and work to make it fruitful and complementary.
  • Examine your own capabilities interacting with, motivating, and assessing people. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to emotional intelligence.
  • Invest in developing your emotional intelligence. The simplest way is to change your mental model about what is important in your role, and begin focusing on how you can better manage, influence, and relate to others.  Or, take it a step further by seeking out training and stretch opportunities.

What you have to offer — what you can do better than any smart machine — is relate to the people around you.  Begin to nurture and invest in these abilities the same way that you have the more technical parts of your career.  If you can be an outstanding motivator, manager, or listener, then you will still have a part to play as technology changes your industry.

This article, in it's entirety, is a must read for anyone who's interested in the future and how to prepare for it:

https://hbr.org/2017/02/the-rise-of-ai-makes-emotional-intelligence-more-important

And finally, we'll close with a particularly relevant quote, from President John F. Kennedy...