The Purpose Economy, Part 2: Foundational Human Behavior

In the previous post, I discussed The Reciprocity Theory and introduced the need for brands to be purpose-driven. In this post we’ll begin to discuss why that is.

Most of you are likely familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The original had 5 levels of needs (1) Physiological, (2) Safety, (3) Social, (4) Esteem, and (5) Self-actualization.

Maslow's Hierarchy_Original 5

But, maybe less of you are familiar with the expanded hierarchy of needs. This expanded the higher order needs to include Cognitive, Aesthetic, and Transcendence.

Maslow's Hierarchy_Expanded

The lower order needs are considered basic (or deficiency) needs, and invoke coping behavior because you’re coping with the minimum you need to survive.

The higher order needs are considered growth (or being) needs, and invoke happiness behavior because you’re engaging in behavior that gives you purpose and makes you happy.

Maslow estimated that 85% of Americans were satisfying those basic physiological needs, 75% satisfying safety, 50% social, and 40% esteem. He also estimated that 10% of Americans were satisfying some self-actualization needs, but only 2% were achieving full self-actualization. My intuition tells me that much of the shifts we’re seeing in our economy are based on technology enabling individuals to satisfy their deficiency needs and grow into satisfying their higher order needs to achieve purpose and happiness. I believe this is a foundational basis for the Collaborative Economy. Indeed, human behavior is being accelerated and scaled by new technologies in such a way that enables us to achieve these higher order needs.

Which leads me to what I call “The CEO’s Technology Paradox”. IBM tells us that CEOs expect technology to drive the most change in their organizations over the next 3 – 5 years, more so than the economy. Yet, we know from business guru, Jim Collins, that “technology can accelerate a transformation, but it cannot cause a transformation.” He derived this insight through his research in writing the book “Good to Great” – well worth the read.

There has been a fundamental misunderstanding amongst organizational leaders about the underlying principles behind the changes that technology is ushering in. At the core of the issue are two opposing forces affecting organizations: (1) the external market force of social technologies disrupting industries and the structure of the workforce, and (2) the internal force of organizations reacting with tactical, technology-centered solutions vs. responding with strategic, human-centered solutions.

CEO's Technology Paradox

In order to succeed in today’s market, CEOs must understand the dynamics of technological revolutions, and the effects of the one we’re living through today. Some of the best leaders are catching on to this.

Click here for the next post in the series where I discuss the history and dynamics of technological revolutions.

The Purpose Economy, Part 3: Technological Revolutions

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