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Purpose over Profit: Inspired by 2019 OCE Discovery

What drives your company?

Are you thinking it’s profits? Or new product lines? Or new acquisitions, expanding global market reach, or going public? Maybe it’s simply the desire for fame and glory! If so, it might be time to reconsider.

At the 2019 OCE Discovery Tech Show, I enjoyed the keynote speech by Duncan Wardle. Given that Wardle was the VP of Innovation & Creativity at The Walt Disney Company for 25 years, I think it’s fair to say he’s put some serious thought into how to move a company forward with intention and innovation. While so much of what he said about creativity rang true for me, this is what I’ll remember most:

“The companies that will make up the next generation of iconic brands will be the ones that choose to focus on purpose, not profit.” – Duncan Wardle

Purpose over profit. That’s a mantra we at Enable can get behind. And let’s be real–you don’t build an education company to get rich quick. What drives us isn’t the fame or glory or fat stacks of dolla’ bills.

Rather, it’s our purpose to imagine and deliver better ways of sharing knowledge.

Our purpose is to revolutionize education. It’s to put knowledge in the hands of people who need it, when and where they need it. It’s to take the burden off growing businesses who struggle to train and engage their staff. It’s to help people start new careers. It’s to help children and young minds think deep thoughts and form their own opinions instead of following the crowd. It’s to make it fun for others to learn AND to make it fun for us to create those meaningful experiences.

Of course, the programmers, the instructional designers, the web team, the game developers and all the other brilliant minds at Enable don’t stand by the coffee machine and pontificate about our honourable deeds. We’re much to humble for that (well, maybe I’m not as I sit here writing this). Good coffee IS part of the daily routine–programmers turn coffee into code, after all–but when we all go back to our desks it’s with our mission to revolutionize education in mind. Squeezing dimes just isn’t on our mind.

When I heard Duncan Wardle encourage the 2000+ audience to stop worrying about quarterly financial results, my heart sang. It was unsolicited proof that we were on the right track with our in-house philosophy. That in a world of struggling economies, financial crises, and a wobbly Canadian dollar, I’m so glad to know that it’s okay to focus on purpose.

What does purpose mean for you?

Say your company makes tools, like fancy-dancy power drills. You’ve put tonnes of R&D time and money into making the most powerful drill ever. And now you have to sell many of them to cover the cost and gain top profits for those quarterly financial reports. But that’s not your true purpose. It’s not because the people buying your product aren’t at the store thinking “I want to buy this powerful fancy-dancy drill to support that tool manufacturer”.

Nope. The customer is thinking “Now I can finally hang art up in my home. Now I can fix the wobbly stair rail for my aging mother. Now I can build a go-kart with my kids so they’ll remember what a great childhood they had.”

See?

Purpose.

Enable Education booth at 2019 OCE Discovery show

How do you maintain purpose over profit with your staff?

Regardless the size of your company, you’ll want everyone on the same page. Each individual employee has to understand your purpose and reflect it in their day-to-day work. This is difficult to do if you have frequent staff turn-over, shift workers, remote workers, multiple locations, and anyone away on extended leave. It all comes down to hiring the right people and updating the ones you already have. Either way, the message has to be consistent and be reflected by your people leaders.

Onboard New Staff

You’ll want your new hires to embrace your purpose from day one. This is the easiest way to start someone in your desired direction. Provide them with interactive online learning materials that introduce that purpose so they can learn about it in their earliest days on the job. Videos, quizzes, support documents, and virtual reality experiences are all engaging ways to share knowledge (and get it to stick).

Update Existing Staff

You might get resistance if you’re redefining your purpose or introducing this concept for the first time. Make it easy for everyone to understand and even offer training so that purpose is embedded with every interaction. Align your messaging with videos everyone can watch and re-watch at any time. Enable Education can even help you create virtual reality experiences for immersive learning opportunities. Change won’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen at all without the right training and support.

Driving Innovation in Ontario and the Halton Region

It felt really good to get up this morning and come to work. It feels good everyday, actually, knowing that what we do at Enable has purpose. I’m ready to put my whole heart into helping someone else access the knowledge they need to move their lives and careers forward. While wandering the floor at the OCE Discovery show, I was excited to see fellow innovators demonstrate their latest gadgets and apps. I saw some advancements in technology that’s going blow our minds once implemented on a wide scale. I shook hands with CEOs and founders who were all brave enough to wonder “what if…?” They’ve developed smart solutions to troubling problems and I was inspired to hear their stories.

Attending and exhibiting at the Discovery show revealed that there’s so much potential in Ontario, and specifically the Halton Region. Our booth neighbours, HalTech, would agree: we’re only just beginning to understand the impact our innovations will have. And with purpose as our driving motivation, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.

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To read more about HalTech’s impression of the 2019 OCE Discovery Tech Show, check out their blog post. We’re grateful to be members of HalTech and enjoyed exhibiting at the Discovery show because of them.


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