From time to time, I have the opportunity to help a team, business or non-profit agency answer the question: Why do we exist? I’m always delighted to help, but the irony is that I never know the answer to the question. All I can do is poke, prod and ask a few questions along the way.
I also find it interesting the number of organizations I’ve encountered over the years who have no purpose – or at least they’ve not stated one. I’ve even met leaders who’ve said, “We don’t need a purpose.” When I hear this, I sometimes try to convince them purpose matters. Here are a few of the reasons I give them…
Clarity – If your purpose is to “save the whales” that provides real clarity. You may hate the challenges the spotted owl is facing, but you and your organization can be clear – it’s about the whales. A clear purpose enables you to focus time, energy and effort on the target.
Energy – This one is harder to explain, unless you’ve experienced it. There is an organizational and personal energy that comes from being clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing. It is energizing.
Alignment – This is one of the most pragmatic reasons to establish a clear purpose. Alignment is the unsung hero of high performance organizations. Without alignment, energy is wasted, efforts are fragmented and results are diminished. A clear purpose gets everyone pulling on the rope in the same direction.
Unity - Like energy, unity is another benefit that’s hard to quantify. However, when the work gets hard, there’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone. When you’re chasing the same goal and you agree on why it matters, you can build community faster and that’s the element that turbocharges teams and organizations.
Fulfillment – This benefit is not automatic nor is it a byproduct of working for and organization that has a purpose. If you want fulfillment, you’ve got to align yourself with an organization whose purpose resonates with you. As an example, if your organization says, “Our Purpose is to maximize shareholder value,” and you really want to save the whales, it’s unlikely you’ll have a deep sense of fulfillment. However, if you can join an organization whose purpose resonates with you, you’ll go home at the end of the day with a real sense your work matters.
Purpose is not the “silver bullet” that solves all of an organization's problems. It is a great place to start. It’s a common cornerstone in organizations that excel. If your organization hasn’t done the hard work to figure this out, it is worth the effort.
If you're ready to work on this, here's one of my previous posts that may help you start the conversation: The Power of the 3 x 5 Card.
Here’s one more thought for you to consider. What’s your purpose? Why you do what you do matters too. If you don’t have a clear sense of personal purpose, you may want to give that some thought. Clarity on this issue will generate personal benefits similar to the ones listed above. Just a thought…[GLS_Shield]
What’s your purpose?