You may be aware of the ASU GSV Summit — an annual event that celebrates innovations and innovators across the global “pre-K to Gray” learning and talent landscape, attracting thousands of attendees from the L&D and investor worlds. The organization behind it is a specialist venture capitalist outfit called GSV Ventures, an early-stage fund that works with entrepreneurs in the fast-expanding $7 trillion learning and talent technology ecosystem. One of the key takeaways from this episode is that the folks at GSV don’t see any conflict at all between having a purpose and making money. Indeed, as we hear from Managing Partner, Deborah Quazzo, you must never confuse philanthropy with running an actual company; no matter how great a founder’s purpose is, if there’s no commercial discipline to actually build a company, the conversation never goes forward.
An investment strategy that embeds purpose
Education and L&D are hot areas, with COVID accelerating interest in digital learning. While GSV doesn’t label itself as an impact fund per se, the organization strongly believes that if investments don’t demonstrate impact, they won’t be financially successful. This belief is ingrained in the fund’s 5P framework for investment analysis — people, product, potential, predictability, and yes, purpose. Companies with purpose “have stronger cultures and are going to inherently have stronger outcomes,” says Deborah.
Supporting the frontline team member
Deborah expects purpose to have more and more impact across American business, driving better outcomes for a whole host of reasons, with generational change being a big factor. The proof point is how many big corporations, from Chipotle to Disney, are making efforts to better support their frontline workers through the current crisis.
This opens up a big opportunity (and responsibility) for corporate learning. Elevating learning in the corporate setting shows commitment, and also benefits all stakeholders, making L&D an important tool for corporate leaders, e.g. as a furlough benefit. All in all, conclude Chris and the RedThread team, learning is definitely contributing to cultures of purpose that are springing up everywhere.
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