Setting out to discover and define your organization’s purpose, value and vision can be an intimidating prospect. Where to start, who to include, how to plan the process such that authentic statements of what the organization stands for and where it is going are generated. If the process is done well, the authentic statements generated will be powerful tools that bind and guide the organization to a better place. If not, the risk is that they end up as unused slogans on the wall.
We suggest the following general steps to start the process and plan for the best outcome.
Involve Key Stakeholders
A typical trap that leaders face in this process is to assume that their broad views about the organization and where it is going are shared broadly.
The best first steps are to engage broadly with the team, customers and other stakeholders to get a clearer – and unvarnished – view of what the organization stands for to all involved.
Company founders, if available, can provide a great starting point as to the initial purpose and values of the organization, as well as the initial vision of where it was going. If the founders are no longer involved, there may be various documents and statements from the early days that can help frame the discussion. There will always be an authenticity given to the statements by all involved, even if it is just as a stepping off point to get to where things actually are at present.
The Broader Team
Be creative with how to engage with the team and understand their perspectives. Small group discussions are helpful, and online surveys (no names basis) can be a good way to get the unvarnished view. Spot interviews with team members as they arrive at work, or just as they are leaving can really bring things to life (these recordings are then powerful when used in later workshop sessions).
We seek anecdotes from team members that bring what the organization stands for to life in a relatable manner for everyone.
Similarly, customer feedback through either feedback forms or the type of vox pop interviews mentioned above can bring their perspective to the table (even if only for the purpose of gap analysis).
Long-time commercial partners provide another avenue of insight to what the organization stands for, particularly if the discussion is conducted in such a way that there is enough trust generated for an honest discussion.
Look at Best Practice Examples
Discussions of corporate purpose, values and vision can seem abstruse. Identifying some best practice purpose statements, and using examples where these powerful statements have been embedded across and organization and truly drive behaviors and values can be powerful.
Workshops that Capture the Meaning
After careful preparation, including the steps listed above, facilitated discussion with the right people coming together can be an essential step to get the right synergistic thinking and from that consensus around what the key issues are.
These statements are so fundamental and can have real buy in from those involved. Purpose and Values workshops are some of the most rewarding discussions we are involved with.
A Plan to Use the Statements Day-to-Day
To make the process as effective as possible, give the team confidence that this exercise is not just going through the motions. How will the purpose statement be used once it is defined? Will it be used as a high-level filter for business and partnership proposals? In hiring new team-members?
To the extent that there is confidence and buy-in that the statement will not only be defined, but meaningfully used across the organization – including by senior leaders – a more engaged and involved process with be possible.
Ø The first steps in defining you purpose, vision and values involve understanding the broad view of team, customers and other stakeholders. There are a number of tools to gain these views reliably.
Ø Best practice examples can show the way to those involved.
Ø A professionally facilitated workshop, with careful planning, methods and the right people involved is usually the crucial step in distilling company statements.
Ø Giving the team confidence that the statements will be used and lived by the organization brings the process to life.
Corporate Purpose assists organizations define their purpose and implement it. Our experienced advisors assist our clients distil purpose, and then embed it such that purpose, mission and values become shared by all team members. Contact us for a complimentary introductory discussion.