A visitor to a stone quarry asked two stone cutters what they were doing.
The first stone cutter, looking sour, grumbled, "I'm cutting this damned stone into a block."
The second, who looked pleased with his work, replied proudly, "I'm on this team that's buidling a cathedral."
From Moments of Truth by Jan Carlzon
Our OTL Pupose (1st draft): To learn as a community
Dee Hock, Birth of the Chaordic Age
… a clear, simple statement of intent that identifies and binds the community together as worth of pursuit. It is more than what we want to accomplish. It is an unambiguous expression of that which people jointly wish to become. It should speak to them so powerfully that all can say with conviction, “If we could achieve that, my life would have meaning.” (Dee Hock, Birth of the Chaordic Age)
An organization's purpose helps to define what it is, or strives to become, rather than what it might choose to accomplish at any specific time. It is not a specific goal. It is not even a particular vision. It is one of the elements (along with the organization's principles) that provides the broad context within which the organization unfolds. It is, in the most general terms, an organization's reason for being. Salient characteristics include:
- Deeply meaningful & even inspirational
- Idealistic & “unrealistic”
- Striving (vs. completing)
- Passion & intellect
- Context – frame for specific goals and broad vision
- “Evolutionary” time frame
- Part of organizational DNA – defines what the organization will do and become
- Discovered not created
In their article "Building Your Company's Vision," (HBR, Oct 1993) Collins & Porras provide specific examples:
Core Purpose – An Organization’s Reason for Being
“Why Are We Here”
- 3M: To solve unsolved problems innovatively
- Cargill: To improve the standard of living around the world
- Fannie Mae: To strengthen the social fabric by continually democratizing home ownership
- Hewlett-Packard: To make technical contributions for the advancement and welfare of humanity
- Lost Arrow Corporation: To be a role model and a tool for social change
- Pacific Theatres: To provide a place for people to flourish and to enhance the community
- Mary Kay Cosmetics: To give unlimited opportunity to women
- McKinsey & Company: To help leading corporations and governments be more successful
- Merck: To preserve and improve human life
- Nike: To experience the emotion of competition, winning, and crushing competitors
- Sony: To experience the joy of advancing and applying technology for the benefit of the public
- Telecare Corporation: To help people with mental impairments realize their full potential
- Wal-Mart: To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same things as rich people
- Walt Disney: To make people happy
OTL LOGs Core Purposes – "An Organization That Learned to ... ”
- A. Learn: To build a movement that changes how the University of Virginia approaches teaching forever; apply the[learning organization] theories within the BIS program and other schools at UVA
- B. Ingore the Rules: To create the environment which is most conducive to learning for each individual member, for the group and for the organization as a whole.
- C. True Learning: To create a non-profit organization utilizing students as consultants working together with communities and institutions of learning to reform learning environments; to change the structure of BIS classes and the hierarchy between faculty and students so that a community of learners is created
- D. EVOLVE: Create a culture that fosters learning both on an individual and organizational level; setting the bar of excellence in organizational learning and leadership; becoming the embodiment of community in spirit and practice
- E. Tool Time: Create a prototype for a new type of learning in university all along the East coast – make available the tools to "release the angel in the marble."
Commitment, Enrollment & Compliance
"Purpose" (also referred to as "mission") drives what is sometimes called an organization's "strategic intent" and can be embodied in a a more concrete "shared vision" (Senge) or BHAG (Collins & Porras). Members of an organization may stand in a variety of relationships to an organization's purpose:
Senge: Possible Attitudes Toward a Vision
Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline (NY: Doubleday, 1990),
Commitment: Wants it. Will make it happen. Creates whatever “laws” (structures) are needed.
Enrollment: Wants it. Will do whatever can be done within the “spirit of the law.”
Genuine compliance: Sees the benefits of the vision. Does everything expected and more. Follows the “letter of the law.” “Good soldiers.”
Formal compliance: On the whole, sees the benefits of the vision. Does what’s expected and no more. “Pretty good soldier.”
Grudging compliance: Does not see the benefits of the vision. Bust, also, does not want to lose job. Does enough of what’s expected because he or she has to, but also lets it be known that he or she is not really on board.
Noncompliance: Does not see benefits of vision and will not do what’s expected. “I won’t do it; you can’t make me.”
Apathy: Neither for nor against vision. No interest. No energy. “Is it 5:00 yet?”
… a behavioral aspiration of the community, a clear, unambiguous statement of a fundamental belief about how the whole and all the parts intend to conduct themselves in pursuit of the purpose. … a precept against which all structures, decisions, actions, and results will be judged. A principle always has high ethical and moral content. It never prescribes structure or behavior it always describes them. Principles often fall quite naturally into to categories: principles of structure and principles of practice.
[those needed] to be participants in the enterprise in order to realize the purpose in accordance with the principles.
… a visualization of the relationships between all of the people that would best enable them to pursue the purpose in accordance with their principles. An organizational concept is perception of a structure that all may trust to be equitable, just, and effective. It is a pictorial representation of eligibility, rights, and oblations of all prospective participants in the community.