It is beyond doubt that the world we live in today is very different from the world we lived in just a few short years ago. It can even be argued that the world is entirely different from the one that existed at the beginning of 2022. The catalyst for this exponential and expedient change is the internet, and the influence it has exerted on every aspect of our lives.
The COVID-19 lockdowns drove us online in a way that was unthinkable until it happened. Shopping, working and socialising all take place primarily now on the internet, and each generation has roughly found their home amongst their peers on a social media platform. Facebook has become the platform of Generation Y, Instagram has become the platform of Millenials and Discord is a popular tool among the emerging Gen Z and Gen Alpha generations.
The reasons for the adoption of the individual platforms provides an insight into the values and mindset of each generation. From the perspective of the up and coming generations, decentralisation and community have taken centre stage as the marco-themes of their mindset. This becomes obvious when placed within the context of their chosen platform - Discord.
The purpose of this article is to explore what Discord does, why it is so popular, what the implications are for business, and how this can be capitalised on from a digital tooling perspective.
What is Discord and why is it so popular?
Discord is a chat app that combines the capabilities of programs such as Skype and TeamSpeak with the professional communication capabilities of platforms such as Slack. Discord initially emerged within the gaming community as a way for gamers to connect with each other, discuss tactics, find new players to team up with and chat while they are playing, and because of how Discord is built, it does not eat up their bandwidth and create delays in their game.
What makes Discord unique is the combination of social and professional communication capabilities - it supports video calls, voice and text, and due to this breadth of functionality, it has extended its value proposition beyond that of just gamers, and has become a semi public/forum-style community platform. Discord today has become a place where individuals can find and join any number of communities based around a variety of topics, including but not limited to: cryptocurrency, DAOs, self-improvement, making friends and just hanging out.
Within Discord individuals can create both public and private servers and therefore either open their group to anyone with similar interests, or keep it closed to a specified group of people. This perfectly facilitates a decentralised approach to organising. With it, these communities almost always engage in conversations about why they exist and what they intent to do. In short, they are seeking and finding their purpose. It is this combination of decentralisation and purpose that makes Discord such an interesting tool to examine. It enables and supports grassroots organising in a way that was not possible for previous generations.
The value of purpose in today’s society
Purpose has become somewhat of a buzzworld in modern business environments, however, for the majority, the understanding is lacking as to why purpose has emerged with such volition and what the implications of this paradigm shift are.
It is well understood that the emerging generations - Gen Z and Gen Alpha - are beginning to become of age where their preferences and values are heavily impacting not only talent acquisition but also diverting large amounts of cash flow within the global economy. It is important to note that it is not only these two generations that are driving this shift, it also includes a large portion of younger Millennials, as they are particularly focussed on making a positive impact in the world. This group is highly driven by values such as community, equality, inclusion and sustainability, and as such actively pursue these values within their lives as primary drivers of motivation. This manifests itself as them actively seeking out opportunities, communities and organisations that are aligned with their individual purpose, and place this purpose at the centre of their activities. This is a marked difference from previous iteration of business pursuit, where previously, profits formed the basis of business pursuit at the cost of everything else. For businesses, the realisation that being void of purpose is one that will cost them their survival in the long-term, and their relevance in the short.
To illustrate, Patagonia and OuterKnown are two clothing brands that actively pursue their stated purposes ahead of profits, and because of this are gaining massive followings within the younger segments of the global market, and by association, the revenues that come with them.
How purpose is driving business
The recent rise of the purpose-driven company has not only had an impact on the business world, it has completely transformed the way businesses think, plan and act within their industries. A purpose-driven company can be defined as ‘A company that stands for and takes action on something bigger than its products and services’. This is not a shift within the business mindset that came about easily, but rather one that emerged from the realities of revenue flows that are associated with the purchasing power of the younger generations. As such, purpose is quickly becoming a point of competitive advantage as more of these generations are entering into the workforce, and their associated purchasing power is increasing. Additionally, this focus on purpose doesn’t only relate to the organisation's outward activities, but also their internal ones too - phenomena such as work-life balance, mental health, training and mentoring and even remote working, are all associated with the values, preferences and expectations of these generations, and the companies that don’t cater to these in adequate ways, are finding it extremely difficult to not only attract, but keep talent within their organisation.
To elaborate on this, there are numerous ways that this new emergent iteration of ‘purpose-driven’ companies differs from the previous ‘traditional’ organisation, however, the following five are the most noticeable:
They build their business strategy around their purpose
Purpose forms the cornerstone of the organisation pursuit. The main aim within these organisations is to have a positive impact on the world around them, this includes the immediate people, communities and environment within which the business operates. Revenues and profits are seen as an enabler for their impact, and not their main focus.
They link their daily activities to a shared-purpose within the company
The idea of a shared purpose is a vital aspect of purpose-driven companies. The shared-purpose is what attracts and maintains the talent within the organisation as it is aligned to the individual values and preferences of the members, and allows these individuals to pursue the outcomes of this stated purpose as the focus of their daily activities. So purpose is not just a statement on the wall, it has actual teeth and translates into everything the organisation does.
They pursue their purpose through the identification and implementation of measurable goals that allow for the pursuit of their purpose
From the perspective of pursuing this shared-purpose on a daily basis, the KPIs and goals of the organisation are directly linked to the stated purpose, and measured against their ability to drive it forward. This ensures that all objectives are aligned and no ulterior motives can creep into the organisation.
They use their purpose as the basis for innovation and competitive advantage
The stated purpose and linked daily activities act as a powerful competitive advantage for the organisation, as it attracts and keeps the right kind of talent within the organisation and acts as a barrier to losing them to other organisations that don’t align to the individual's values. Additionally, it places the organisation firmly within its own market niche, thereby protecting its revenues ensuring a sustained positive impact.
They set up their value-chain as a means to create positive impact
Purpose-driven organisations utilise all aspects of the business for positive impact. The value chain and supply chain are no exceptions. These organisations select and create their supply chain on the basis of it being able to help them in the pursuit of their stated purpose.
Tooling that enables the effective pursuit of purpose
The pursuit of purpose is not something that can be implemented as easily as wallpaper within the business. It requires a mindshift change as well as an operational change from the perspective of the organisation. As such, the pursuit of purpose generally requires the individuals within the organisation to lead their work themselves and use the purpose, strategy and priorities shared within the organisation as the basis for pursuing the stated purpose.
In order to do this effectively, the pursuit of shared-purpose requires a specialised kind of digital tooling that allows for effective and efficient decision-making.From this perspective, it becomes vital to implement a tooling partner that was designed and purposely built to facilitate the efficient and effective pursuit of purpose. One such tooling platform is Nestr.
Nestr is a digital tooling platform specifically designed for decentralised purpose-driven organisations, as it facilitates a few vital aspects within the organisation that allow for the effective and efficient pursuit of purpose, this aspect include:
Shared agreements are a prerequisite form of governance within decentralised organisations. With no traditional management hierarchies, authority needs to be anchored in shared agreements. In Nestr, all members are able to view and easily propose changes to the organisations shared agreements.
Defining of roles and responsibilities
Nestr is designed in such a way that all members can quickly see the different roles they fill and what they are accountable for. With this role clarity in hand they can start and request projects from one and other with full clarity on deliverables. This enables everyone to know what’s going on and what is expected of them to best contribute to the shared strategy and purpose.
When team members aren’t physically in the same room, or even in the same time zone, it’s imperative to ensure that collaboration is transparent and effective. Nestr helps organise collaboration within and between distributed teams by providing a place for teams to capture and track their projects in real time, all clearly linked to the roles explicitly accountable.
For distributed collaboration to work, regular communication is essential. Nestr provides a Circle-based communication feature that is similar to Slack, Discord and other team servers. It allows members to focus their communication involvement only on what is most relevant for them and ignore the rest, drastically reducing overwhelm.
A tool for a rapidly changing world
The world is rapidly changing - new tools that are made possible by the rise of the internet, combined with the priorities of emerging generations - are making it imperative for organisations to be about more than just profit. The popularity of social platforms such as Discord are proof-points of this new decentralised, purpose-driven consciousness.
It is becoming clear that organisations that wish to ensure their own long-term survival become about more than just profits, and actively seek to have a positive impact on the world through the pursuit of a stated ‘purpose’. However, when a pursuit of purpose is implemented, it is vital that the tooling utilised within the organisation is equipped to facilitate the seamless and efficient pursuit of the stated purpose. From this perspective, having a tooling partner that was designed and built to facilitate the pursuit can make all the difference, and in the market today, there is no better tooling partner than Nestr.
Enjoyed reading this? Why not head to Values Matter: A digital tool for purpose-driven organisations