Having a clear vision and/or a clear purpose are the first steps in bringing order into complexity.
VISION: Where do we want to go? What is our ideal future?
Definition: The act or power of seeing
A vision statement is sometimes called a picture of your organisation in the future but it’s so much more than that. Your vision statement is your inspiration, the framework for all your strategic planning.
A vision statement may apply to an entire company or to a single division of that company. Whether for all or part of an organisation, the vision statement answers the question, “Where do we want to go?”
What you are doing when creating a vision statement is articulating your dreams and hopes for your business.
It reminds you of what you are trying to build.
”It is not what the vision is but what it what it does, that is important” – Peter Senge
THE PURPOSE OF PURPOSE: Why we are all here collectively?
Discovering purpose is to discover why something exists. Often we hurry to get into action before we properly understand why we need to take action. Gaining clarity on purpose and especially gaining collective clarity is setting the right course for taking action. A purpose, therefore, becomes a navigational tool like a compass as it helps us to discover the direction of travel for our efforts so they can be of service.
Purpose can also been described as ‘the glue’ that brings people’s contribution and efforts together. This is because it defines why we are working towards something and why it is worth working on this together. In fact, purpose becomes an invisible leader as it both connects different actions taken and supports everyone to know why their contribution is valuable.
To be a useful navigational tool in seeking the way forward, purpose contains three elements:
Higher Intent – why action is needed for the greater good in service of life, e.g. “We are not forming coalitions of states, we are uniting men” – Jean Monnet (about the European Union)
Statement of Purpose – what effort is needed here and what is being pursued so that direction of action can be set. This does not define the destination but instead invites and inspires others to participate with clarity.
Intention – The will to be in pursuit of grounding the higher intent through the actions we take regardless of the challenges that might arise.
When these three elements are aligned and collectively understood – the greater good of why we need to take action, the clarity of what we are pursuing in order to ground the higher intent and the will to do this regardless of the conditions – then purpose becomes a powerful attractor that allows people to combine their individual efforts to work together on making a difference for all.
In an organisation or a community many purposes co-exist. All too often, insufficient effort is given to interconnect these purposes so that it can feel that different and conflicting purposes are at play. It is therefore important to remember that different purposes are at play. For example:
- The purpose of the stakeholders that the organisation serves
- The purpose of the whole community / organisation
- The purpose of the core group
- The purpose of each member of the core team
In the light of this, the following questions may inspire your collective inquiry into your shared purpose:
- What is our collective purpose?
- What is the purpose of our function, team or project?
- How does my purpose align with the purpose we are all here to accomplish?
- What is the purpose that is at the heart of this work and that will align us all to accomplish it?
Putting effort, therefore in gaining clarity and specifically collective clarity on purpose is a key strategic action that if overlooked, usually ends up with entanglements, confusion and even conflicts instead of achieving outcomes that make a difference. Seeking purpose is not something to be done once, either. As action is taken and more is discovered as a result, coming back to check in with purpose – are we still on course or do we have a new one arising – is a wise thing to do.