Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Power of Purpose

Perhaps more than ever before, we need purpose-driven organizations and leaders because they
  • Seek contribution from people rather than try to control them
  • Nurture creativity rather than force compliance
  • Coach members rather than command troops
  • Unleash commitment rather than settle for consent 
  • Build a sense of community instead of force confinement of individuals from one another
  • Accept complexity instead of contrive certainties
(these qualities taken verbatim from The Purpose-Driven Organization by Terry Pascarella.

But all around us we find examples of fear-based leaders whose inflammatory rhetoric attempts to unite, but only to rally against false foes or unlikely threats.  In challenging times it's easy to resort to such an approach, but if we learned anything from Built to Last, we should remember the importance of preserving an organization's (and I would suggest our own individual) core purpose and values: this is who we are and this is why we exist.

For me, the Hoberman sphere is a perfect metaphor for the power of purpose.  This simple object expands and contracts effortlessly while preserving its basic framework in its entirety as it does so.  An organization's or individual's purpose can do the same, remaining as the essence of ones efforts while expanding or contracting in scope based on internal priorities or external realities.  Regardless of the chosen scale, the purpose—your identity—does not vary, nor is it sacrificed for quick short-term gains.

If your organization lacks clarity around that seemingly simple, yet incredible difficult to determine and preserve essence, you know where your work needs to begin.

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