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Podcast: Turning Crisis Into Success Through Purpose

Businesswoman experiencing work stress.
Robert Quinn

A new episode of the Harvard Business Review’s popular podcast, HBR Ideacast, features the story of the turnaround at DTE Energy after the company faced a crisis in 2009, with commentary from Michigan Ross Professor Emeritus Robert Quinn and Anjan Thakor of the Olin Business School at Washington University.

In the podcast, DTE CEO Gerry Anderson describes how finding a sense of purpose throughout the organization took the company from the brink of financial ruin to the highly successful organization it remains today. The story is an instructive example of the ways that purpose can turn into performance — the topic of Quinn and Thakor’s recent HBR cover story.

Quinn and Thakor use the DTE example as a starting point to discuss the power of purpose-driven organizations.

“Most CEOs do not believe in purpose work. They don’t want to do purpose work. They think it’s a waste of time,” Quinn says in the podcast. “If you can learn to do purpose work, you are going to be different than most managers and most executives in the world. You have leadership capacity they don’t have.”

Robert Quinn is professor emeritus of management and organizations at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and one of the founders of the Center for Positive Organizations.


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