Episode 34: With Carolyn Butler-Madden, on organisational identity

E34 Carolyn Bulter-Madden

As the title suggests, this podcast is all about unearthing a new perspective on risk.

My guests are experts in their fields where they impact risk either directly or indirectly. My interviews aim to lift the lid on risk and rip it apart to give you a whole new perspective on it.

My name’s Lisa Sisson and I am founder of risk consultancy, Unearth. I’m also becoming known somewhat as a “Risk Rebel”.

At Unearth we believe that risk starts and ends with people. Equally, we believe that opportunity starts and ends with people. So if you’re not looking at risk with, through and by your people, then you are not only leaving your organisation exposed to risk, you are also not opening up the opportunities that a people-centred risk strategy will deliver.

We are thrilled to welcome back Carolyn Butler-Madden, the “Chief Purpose Activist” from her Purpose Consultancy, The Cause Effect. Carolyn last spoke with us almost two years ago on Episode 4, on the Power of Purpose within Organisations.

Since then, Carolyn has released her second book, “For Love & Money” which was a winner in the ‘Social Responsibility’ category of the Australian Business Book Awards in 2022.

The work Carolyn and her business does is important, helping businesses and organisations get really clear on their purpose and embedding it into their business and their strategy.

In this episode we discuss the importance of your unique organisational identity and how it needs to sit at the heart of your business.

There is no denying that there has a shift in what employees, customers, and investors are expecting from businesses today, and purpose has become an important focal point which sits within an organisational identity. Doing this well provides incredibly opportunity, though doing it half-baked leads to risk and even being exposed.

Today, the most successful businesses, the ones that are financially outperforming their counterparts, are businesses with a clear sense of purpose. We are not talking about businesses who state, we’ve got a purpose… that they have a “why” statement. Not a statement that just gives context to what you already do with an angle, which is still the case for many companies. Carolyn shares is as “purpose today is about the change you want to create in the world, through and beyond your products and services. It is your North Star. It is what you are in service of, you are not constrained. Your products and services are your means to achieve it. But you’re not constrained by them.”

Businesses who were leaning into purpose as part of their core, their organisational identity, are finding there is value in sharing their stories. It allows them to identify with their people, “people like us” (Seth Godin quote), who believe things like this. It is important to understand what the undercurrent is, that belief, that attracts people to your organisation and to your brand. It is equally important to understand what attracts you to your people. No doubt their skills and everything. But usually, there’s something else as well. It’s an attitude, most successful purpose led organisations, they have got such clarity on their identity.

Here are some of the points covered during Carolyn and Lisa’s discussion:

  • Your ‘North Star’ – how being a degree or more off through misaligned leaders is diluting the value of an organisational identity and creating risk.
  • Do you know what the stories, the narrative, that is being shared about your business? Both within the business and externally?
  • The Iceberg analogy – the business that are financially outperforming their counterparts, are businesses with a clear sense of purpose, beyond the tip of an iceberg.
  • Businesses leading the way (successful, celebrated and loved) and punching above their weight, resulting in disrupting their categories.
  • Identity, purpose and story-leadership (story-telling & story-weaving), spoken by your people, products and services.
  • Unleashing the full potential of your people and understanding the risk associated to disengagement.
  • What connects you? (the shared narrative)
  • The power of emotional bonds.
  • Are you there to lead change?

Now is the time for businesses, regardless of size and sector, to ensure you and your business have clarity on your organisational identity, and that it is embedded in everything you do… every decision and action. Because if you don’t, then you could find yourself, your people and the way you operate is in conflict with your organisational identity. Creating unnecessary risks and confusion.

Now is the time to act, ‘under blue skies’, and bring your trusted team and consultants together to ensure you have a plan and approach are aligned so you can offer your team and the marketplace your best efforts and performance.

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