When I get asked about Vision and Purpose in a business, I believe vision is the ability to create a picture, or visualise, what the business looks like in the future. Purpose is a cousin of and interacts with the vision. I believe it answers the why, (a reason) for the business to exist.
If there is not a clear statement of purpose, the vision may have difficulty converting into actuality. There is less motivation for people to move the business towards the vision.
If there is not clear vision, the direction of the business is more susceptible to fluctuations, to chance and outside factors like today's market conditions.
When vision and purpose are aligned, the business has found its feet and its ability to keep walking on. When one is missing the business hops around losing direction, getting nowhere. When both are missing the business is comatose.
Vision and purpose are both concepts. They only exist if people within the business buy in to them.
So, let’s bring it all down to earth. I’ve come into workplaces and seen the lack of purpose. I’ve seen employees sitting in cubicles or standing in the production line, without much sense of motivation other than getting through the day and receiving enough of a pay check to pay the mortgage and have enough left over for a flutter on the horses. And I’ve seen decision makers with very fancy company mission statements on their wall, but in reality their sole purpose in being there is to make more money. Whilst this is a necessary part of life, I feel a touch of sadness when all we need is more money. Individuals need income to meet their basic needs, companies need financial stability, to generate profits and all organisations need to pay their bills.
But is that need for money sufficient? Is that what it takes? I say that's not sufficient. And why not?
Because the energy of an organisation comes from its people. People need more than money in order to remain energised...they need quality interpersonal interaction. Work can be considered as one social interaction scene. People thrive on truly authentic connection. This is just as true in the workplace, as in the family, as in the social arena and in society at large. Workplaces are full of unmotivated people going through the motions in order to appear compliant and useful. Lowly motivated people do not mesh together into an energy field. Unmotivated people clump together like a safety net.
One role of an organisation's purpose is to provide some external motivation. Motivation comes from the sense that what we are doing here today has value over and beyond the very necessary need to make profits. And it speaks beyond the basic human need for security. It speaks to ‘does does the contribution I am making in right now assist and support the organisations purpose, my purpose and bring me some joy and satisfaction?" And, ‘does what I am contributing right now help to make the world a better place’.
And ‘does what we are working on here in this workplace provide us with an opportunities to connect authentically with workmates to the extent that our individual natures yearn for that'.
I’ve seen cubicle worlds and I’ve seen farm production floors. I’ve seen ‘let’s get this day over with’ attitudes and I’ve seen groundhog-day workplace spirit.
And I’ve also seen organisations that have managed to create clear vision and purpose and have facilitated opportunities for implementing clear authentic communication.
For example a room in a workplace could be set aside as a ‘truth speaking room’. What is said in that room in a spirit of truth, remains in that room. And it is not necessarily a room for people to express their personal withholds or frustrations or struggles with another individual in the business, or with a boss. The focus might be on expressing dissatisfaction with the direction the company is going, or the way the company is not paying any attention to the amount of paper usage, or to the effect the products and services are having on the planet’s ecology.
Or “I expressed this idea and it just has gone nowhere. And that makes me feel unvalued. It makes me want to move on. How can I make my contributions be seen and valued more around here?" We all like to be heard. When we are heard we are motivated to come into alignment with each other and to bring our collective energy into the play, in synergy.
So let’s work towards:
- a. Getting precisely clear on what our purpose is for this business or organisation.
- b. Where we see ourselves in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years.
- c. How can we encourage living "authentic communication" in the workplace so that our people buy into the vision and purpose of this venture in a powerful and sustainable way?
- d. Discover what it is that enables people to truly say “yes", to being a part of "this" workplace.
Richard Branson is quoted as saying “Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no”.
Common purpose towards shared vision. Can it be that simple? Step by step by step, our Radical Consultants Team can take you towards turning hidden “no’s” into visible “yes’s”.
And we might get "Way Radical" and say the measurement of that transition is the movement towards ‘a helluva lot more fun’. Where “fun" does not only mean raucous celebration, it more often means solid and creative working forward taking steps - like dancers take steps - in the enabling of the shared vision.
Can work be fun? Can we be authentic in the work place? Can we actually share common intent and empower each other to be the people we truly wish to be? Can we really and truly Meet Each Other in the Workplace? The real each and other?
I wonder whether our bottom line thrives on all that?
What do you think? Give us a call. We have ears to listen and learn about your business and vision and you, and take this exciting journey further with you.