The Human Centered Organization: Engaging and Empowering Employees to Innovate on Purpose

The Human Centered Organization is driven by purpose and its people-engaging and empowering employees, consumers, and the community at large.

Central to the development of a human centered organization is the engagement of people. Purpose-driven leadership will commit to the joint values held by the organization and its employees-striving for positive impact that extends beyond the boundaries of the organization. In the human centered organization, leaders exhibit empathy for people, value diversity of thought, and possess a strong ability to connect to people within and outside the organization. Purpose-driven leaders will see their employees as a reflection and extension of the organization and themselves. Through shared values, an organization will empower its human capital to innovate for positive impact—engaging employees to participate in activities larger than the day to day activities.


Engaging and Empowering Employees to Think Larger: Organizations can empower their employees to seek more than the personal mastery required of their positions, and to look beyond the boundaries of their positions, disciplines and projects. The engaged employee will perform better, share and engage with their colleagues including the sharing of knowledge and learning, with a view to co-designing and co-development of both products and people. Employees will see themselves as directly impacting the quality of life of consumers, through product and service design. In charting the way forward toward building the human centered organization:


  • Employees should be able to identify with the vision and values of the organization.

  • Goals, values, and mission statements can guide decision making including an increased focus on human capital and impactful innovation. A purpose-driven mindset supports employee as well as external stakeholder engagement and the commitment to make a difference in the lives of their consumers and community at large.

  • A sense of service beyond the organization, the idea of impactful work, and the value of consumer engagement should be conveyed to employees.

  • The purpose of the organization should be to embed consumer centricity across the innovation and product life cycle including: designing with and for consumers, testing with consumers, designing with the purpose of truly enhancing the quality of life for consumers.

  • Transparency with stakeholders including employees and consumers, will signal that integrity and openness about challenges and mistakes are important to the organization and its leadership.

  • Opportunities should be provided for ideation, experimentation, learning, feedback, and analysis, to employees at all levels of the organization.

  • Employees working across boundaries can learn to value diversity of ideas and the opportunities that arise from open collaboration with other colleagues. Through empathy, experiential learning, mentorship of, by and with consumers, the human capital of the organization will develop the needed skill set to drive consumer centric innovation.

  • Access to leadership will ensure that employees have the opportunity to share their concerns directly with management. The ability to move across levels of the organization can be visibly demonstrated through leadership engagement of employees.

  • Employees should be recognized and rewarded for their contributions to the organization including the ability to engage others—most notably their peers and consumers.

  • Assessments, feedback, and accountability will ensure that the organization exceeds goal achievement and that employees continue to feel engaged and connected to the organization.

  • Corporate social responsibility will extend the boundaries of the organization, as employees act as ambassadors of the organization while participating in community development initiatives.

  • By engaging employees in ESG programs, employees can further steer the organization's social programming-namely the protection and empowerment of people connected to the organization.

Just as leaders seek to create impact and lead on purpose, employees are increasingly looking to their purpose within the organization, and how they can have a meaningful impact on consumers and society at large. Given the number of hours employees spend each week engaged in work activities, it is essential to create inclusive and nurturing workplace environments, where employees are at their best and innovate on purpose.

References: Galbraith, J. The Star Model TM. 2016.

Lafley, A.G. What Only the CEO can do, Harvard Business Review, May 2009.