Purpose is one of three fundamentals for what it takes for an organization to become "Teal", along with Wholeness and Self-Management. Purpose is vital for all organizations looking to become something better and to not just make money, but to make an impact. Experts around the world have been saying and showing what they mean by "purpose" for years, each calling it something different.
Simon Sinek, the de facto expert on meaningful purpose, which he calls the "Why", sometimes describes it as: "The one constant that will guide you toward fulfillment in your work and life."
Reinventing Organizations, the book which made "Teal" a worldwide concept, describes purpose as: "The deepest creative potential to bring something new to life, to contribute something energetically, valuably to the world."
And Morning Star, one of the most successful examples of how a company can self-manage, revolves every piece of their organization around its "Mission Statement" (talked about in detail below).
What is "Purpose"?
Whether you call it a why, mission statement, BHAG, or something else, a purpose always comes out with the same intent -
What good do you want your organization to do in the world?
A purpose means you are doing what you do for more of a reason than simply making money. You don't want to do work just so that you can make money. Rather, you want to make money so that you can accomplish something grand. Making money is important and necessary, but it should be the byproduct, not the goal.
Why is purpose important?
Purpose is not just a new-age, fancy-sounding word that makes you popular. It has real meaning and value behind it. First, it helps you, your hiring, and your branding by separating you from most companies. Most people inherently want to contribute to something larger than themselves - something that makes a real difference and adds value to the world. By making it known you are striving for something greater, employees and customers will join you in the journey because they want to be part of helping you succeed. They resonate with your mission, and that will mean just as much to them as the quality of your product and service.
Furthermore, purpose can provide a lot of direction for all levels of your company. We will look at the aforementioned Morning Star mission statement for guidance. Their mission statement is (in short):
"To produce tomato products and services which consistently achieve the quality and service expectations of our customers in a cost effective, environmentally responsible manner."
The company has a mission, and every department within the company has a mission which is clearly a portion of accomplishing that. Their engineers don't just try to use the newest and coolest equipment - they aim for equipment that lowers cost-effectiveness, improves quality, and is more environmentally responsible. Their client contracts aren't just focused on making the company money, but achieving the service and quality expectations of their customers. Everything they do in every department, in every interaction, uses the company mission statement as a compass to help them make the right decisions.
Finding your organization's purpose
There are lots of tips and strategies on how to find your purpose and many different techniques that all work for different people. Below, we've provided some of the best resources we know of to help you figure out how to discover your own purpose and put it into words.
This is a great article that explains how to think about purpose, how to find yours, and how to write it in a way that provides direction and is clear to outsiders. This is an incredibly valuable article!
Whether you want to listen to the podcast or read the transcript, this is a lot of guidance from the "Why" expert himself.
The Importance of Purpose
Matt Dunsmoor, who trained others on Holacracy at Zappos.com and worked with Simon Sinek, talks about the importance of purpose.
Matt Dunsmoor again with an article about things you strongly want to consider and be aware of before you try making "Purpose" an important part of your organization.
This wiki is a great resource for all things "Teal", and this collection of examples is no exception.
How to define your organization's purpose in Holaspirit
Purpose is important, so Holaspirit makes sure every member sees the organization's purpose on the main screen.
If you wish to define or update your organization's purpose, you can do see by following the instructions in this article and editing the Purpose field.