Purpose is the Answer to the Talent Crunch

A terrific conversation about talent broke out at today’s sxsw panel on “do agencies need to think more like software companies?”.  It’s making me think about how organizations are transforming themselves through the power of Purpose and — in doing so — separating from their more plebian counterparts in the hunt to attract and retain the best people.

The conversation was basically about the way that agencies, software companies, and technology orgs of all stripes are all increasingly competing for the same (or at least similar) talented individuals to work for them.   Hey, people of great talent always have choices to make.  As for organizations, well, they are ultimately only as good as the quality of the talent they’re able to find and keep. This theme basically echoes points raised at the AAAA conference held earlier this week in Austin:  that talent is a number 1 priority for agencies now.In short, all the panelists at this particular sxsw event – who were all esteemed creative & strategic leaders from the likes of Google, Google Labs, and agencies alike — echoed that the answer ultimately comes down to culture.  As they put it, the real key to winning the talent war all starts with being a place people want to be a part of.  A place where they feel their work is valued.  A place that helps them clearly ‘get’ why they’re getting out of bed in the morning to go to work, inspired by a worthy, even noble, cause.

As we’ve been preaching and practicing  at GSD&M for many years now, that inspiring sense of common cause all comes from the wellspring of an organization’s Purpose: a clear understanding of the essential difference your organization/brand/service is seeking to make in peoples’ lives.  Once that Purpose is revealed and articulated, it can lend a sense of focus to organizational culture and provide a bedrock foundation for everything from marketing and communications to product development and innovation.

Organizations seeking to build a roster of great, world-beating talent would do well to think through what it means to start with a great, passion-inspiring Purpose.

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