General Colin Powell on Purpose

By | August 12, 2012

General Colin Powell | City Arts & Lectures.

On 2012 August 12 KQED broadcast a 2012 June 7 City Arts & Lectures conversation with General Colin Powell in part discussing his new book It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership. It was an engrossing conversation which unfortunately is not available as a podcast or transcript. I felt that the best point made by Powell was regarding purpose: he said that it’s not sufficient for a company to make money; they also need to have a purpose (which serves a higher cause). He further observed that such companies need to communicate that purpose externally (and internally). For example, financiers need to communicate their purpose in weeding out companies that would otherwise be a drag on the economy. He also related his efforts to communicate with the janitors in the State Department to ensure that they understood the higher purpose of their work: making the building shine for visitors and thus to present the State Department in a good light.

I think that an organization’s purpose directly ties into sustainability while its mission usually does not.


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