July 2014
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TD Magazine

Driven By the Common Good

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World
By Aaron Hurst
Elevate, 288 pp., $18


Hurst has delivered a call to action in his new book, explaining that individuals and organizations need to rethink how they work to thrive in this new economy.

In 1977, Hurst's uncle, Marc Porat, coined the term "information economy," which described the age in which humans have improved information and communication methods via television, the computer, and the Internet. The tools and conditions created by the information economy paved the way for what Hurst has now dubbed the "purpose economy," defined as "the quest for people to have more purpose in their lives. It is an economy where value creation is focused on enabling purpose for employees and customers—through serving needs greater than their own, enabling personal growth and building community."

This book is full of research and personal stories that demonstrate the emergence of the purpose economy. One section outlines the drivers of this new economy, including the "Maslow Millennial Effect"—although, as Hurst points out, "This change doesn't revolve around one generation, but Millennials are certainly a major accelerant." Purpose drives everyone, regardless of generation, profession, or socioeconomic status.

Hurst covers three different types of purpose—personal, social, and societal—as well as how individuals and organizations work with purpose and how to develop your own personal purpose statement. He presents five truths about purpose, including a key truth: Purpose is different from a cause. Purpose is a choice, the way you approach your work, your life's direction; whereas a cause is a destination, an endpoint to a goal. As he wraps up the book, Hurst reminds readers that the purpose economy is about more than just profits and making money. It's about creating meaningful impact in service of people and the planet.

Business leaders and learning professionals can benefit from reading this book. It's a great introduction to the cultural and economic shift that is headed our way. More employees, especially Millennials, are seeking to work for purpose economy organizations; ones that "create purpose for its employees and customers." To learning professionals, focused on the development of our organizations and their employees, this book sends a critical message that we cannot ignore.

Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking

Rich Horwath
Wiley, 184 pp., $28

Critical or strategic thinking is one of the most desired traits in employees at all levels. Yet few people truly understand what strategic thinking is, much less how to do it systematically. Horwath, CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute and a New York Times bestselling author on strategy, presents a framework for practicing strategic thinking on a daily basis. A great resource for any leader looking for advice on how to build her business, Elevate breaks down strategic thinking into three parts: coalesce, compete, and champion. Don't be intimidated by the words "advanced strategic thinking" in the title—Horwath shows readers how to systematically improve their critical thinking skills, and it's easier than you may think.

It's Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself With the Best

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz
Harvard Business Review Press, 224 pp., $25

From one of the world's leading experts on executive development comes a new book on how to get the right people into your life—whether it's employees, mentors, friends, spouses, or even elected officials—so that you can succeed. Fernández-Aráoz provides practical advice on how to systematically select and develop the right people. Readers will gain surprising insight into their own biases, and learn how to overcome them to accurately assess the skills and potential of others. Using specific examples from such organizations as Amazon, Apple, and Samsung, the author shows readers creative ways to build capable, diverse teams—no matter what the goal is.

Training That Delivers Results: Instructional Design That Aligns With Business Goals


Dick Handshaw
AMACOM, 224 pp., $34.95

Trainers know the drill: Their organization decides its employees need training on X—customer service, business writing, analytical skills—and whatever it is, the trainer is expected to deliver. Handshaw gets back to the basics with Training That Delivers Results, showing readers how to get to the root of the performance problem before designing a solution. Readers will learn how to proactively collect data to define problems, create targeted performance objectives and connect them with the right measurement tools, design an instructional strategy using the appropriate media, and build consensus with project blueprint meetings. All these will ensure that learning and business goals always go hand in hand.

What's on Doug Conant's Bookshelf?

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't by Jim Collins. This book creates a blueprint for thinking about how to create a great organization.

The Road Not Taken and Other Poems by Robert Frost. Frost's poetry in general touches me, but I am particularly inspired by "The Road Not Taken." It reminds me to make my own path.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (translated by Edith Grossman). Don Quixote always encourages me to pursue a noble journey.

About the Author

Talent development consultant focused on driving manager effectiveness, business acumen of all employees and engaging employees in their own personal development. I'm someone who fosters connections between people and ideas with a goal of improving performance. This could be done on discussion boards, enterprise social networks, small group discussions, in training workshops or while walking down the hall to a meeting. I'm passionate about helping people learn from and with each other and making learning part of everyday life. One of my strengths is being able to build and facilitate peer-to-peer learning experiences through online discussions, our enterprise social network, small learning circles and virtual workshops.

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