‘Why do you think a structure change is necessary?’ I asked the Leadership Team of a large corporate company during a strategy meeting. ‘Well,’ one of the directors answered, ’our current structure is too complicated. Teams get their work from several stakeholders who always believe their request is the most urgent one. On top of that, these requests are often not aligned with us, the Leadership Team. As a result, the backlog of many of the teams is overflowing with urgent and ad-hoc work. They get stuck and come to me or my peers to help them fight the fire.’
‘Next to this,’ one of her colleagues mentions,’ I think it’s also not clear why we work on certain, more regular topics. Are they really of value and to whom?’ Another team members nods and adds,’ I think that we still work in silos and are not aware of what we all have in common. Maybe we are reinventing the wheel over and over again, without even knowing it.’
After a profound discussion the team identified the following disconnects:
- While knowing a transformation is necessary, they get stuck in a hamster wheel.
- There are too many projects running without a clear understanding of their interdependencies.
- They started the transformation towards Business Agility without having clarity on what they are aiming for.
- They lack the proper skills and capability to lead their organisation and people through the upcoming change.
Living in a bubble – A wake-up call for organisations
This Leadership Team is not alone in knowing a transformation is required, if they want to survive as a company, let alone thrive in the future, but is at the same time unable to spend enough time and resources reinventing their business model and value streams.
Data* shows that nearly 40% of CEO’s don’t think their companies will be economically viable a decade from now if they continue on their current path. Still, 60% of those CEO’s remain in execution mode. The result? Their company’s transformation does not get off the ground and their final decline is eminent.
On top of that, 98% of CEO’s think the purpose of their organisation is well understood by everyone in the organisation. But already 1 organisational level lower, this percentage drops a staggering 50%.
It’s no wonder that leaders and employees do often not see the link between their strategy, their current projects and what they are working on. Let alone how these are connected to creating Business Agility and an irresistible thriving workplace.
*Research article PWC
Reconnect through purpose
The team decided to start with transforming themselves first, which might sound contradictory as we aim for a people-centric approach. This makes more sense though when we take a closer look at research from the Business Agility Institute. Their research shows that for three years in a row the top 2 challenges organisations experience during their journey towards Business Agility, is 1) resistance to change and 2 lack of leadership.
That is why this team concluded that they might know how to manage situations, they don’t know how to lead this change. They were not even sure if they were a true Leadership Team, but maybe more like a group of managers with different agendas. They wanted to better understand their WHY and kicked-off their journey with a purpose finding session.
4-step approach from purpose to value
A purpose does not magically appear in one day. It takes time and effort from everyone in the organisation, department, or team. This specific team decided to make use of Twinxter’s 4-step approach. A creative and proven approach in which employees, leaders and stakeholders are involved to get to a connected purpose. This 4-step approach is the same whether you are a large or small organisation, a department or team.
Step 1 – Imagine your future
Yuval Harari wrote in his book Sapiens (2015) that imagination is humans’ strongest trait. It brought us where we are today and will bring us to the future.
The team kicked of imagining their future organisation within 3 years from today. Without actively doing something yet, we asked them to step into that future and imagine what their organisation would look like. With this picture in their mind, each team member drew the aspired future individually. Then they discussed their individual views one by one and created one, shared future vision based on all the individual pictures. This way of visualising and communicating helped them to understand each other’s perspectives, to create a common understanding of what they value and what value they, together as a team and as a company, wanted to deliver to others.
Step 2 – Create your story
Afterwards, the team was so excited, that they immediately wanted to share their future vision with the rest of the organisation.
But, we all know what happens if you tell a story to 10 different people… So, they started to write their shared story. By doing so, they noticed that they still had some gaps to fill, but first things first. This was the start of their future journey, and they were curious what the employees would think of it.
Step 3 – Validate your story
With small teasers and recordings, the team inspired employees to join the validation session and help craft their future together.
This validation existed of demos in several different formats. In small groups the leaders explained their thoughts and participants gave their feedback or added what they missed and would like to see added. They build on the initial thoughts of their leaders. Even better, employees volunteered to help improve the story and became ambassadors of this future movement.
Step 4 – Define your purpose
The leadership Team also wanted to fill in some gaps, as defining their purpose related not only to their future, but to their past as well. They dived into the roots of the organisation and identified their crucibles. Before moving to the next level of defining their purpose, they used all sorts of techniques, such as crowdsourcing, design-thinking, and feedback-loops to identify and validate their aspired values, and principles. Meanwhile, they also analysed their organisation’s current situation, the challenges they had to overcome, which let towards multiple, common strategic themes and an overview of what to work on first.
I often notice that there is still a lot of confusion about what a purpose entails and at the same time I also see a lot of greenwashing, which basically means that the company’s purpose is just there for the show.
A purpose is not just a slogan on the wall, and it also has nothing to do with a number, like increasing profit or opening the next shop. It’s a belief that reflects all of the above in a short inspiring and ambitious sentence and has everything to do with your identity and the promise you make to employees, customers, stakeholders, and society at large.
When you are finished with creating your purpose, you can try to check it against these principles:
- Is it inspiring? To whom?
- How will the world be different when you live your future?
- What added value do you bring to customers, employees, society?
When you are finished with creating your purpose, you can try to check it against these principles:
Some well-constructed purpose examples:
- Walt Disney
‘We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages everywhere’
‘We’re in business to save our home planet’
‘Doing now what patients need next’
Benefits of working with this 4-step approach
As you might have noticed along the way, the organisation started to leverage the Collective Intelligence of their organisation. This helped the Leadership Team in multiple ways, like:
1. Raise awareness for the need of change and how to realise this change
2. Increased engagement among employees and customers
3. First steps towards value driven strategy, based on a connected purpose, mission, vision and strategy
Now it’s your turn. Do you recognise the struggles of this Leadership Team? What would help you to step out of this so-called hamster wheel and start to execute on purpose?
Key topics we dived into
- The disconnects faced by leadership teams: Complexity, lack of alignment, reinventing the wheel, and skills gaps.
- Alarming statistics: CEOs’ concerns about economic viability and the misunderstanding of organisational purpose.
- The awakening: A Leadership Team’s realisation of the need for self-transformation and clarity of purpose.
- Twinxter’s guiding 4-step approach: 1) Imagine your future, 2) Create your story, 3) Validate your story, and 4) Define your purpose.
- Understanding the true essence of purpose: Differentiating it from slogans and greenwashing.
- Evaluating your purpose: Principles for crafting an inspiring and ambitious purpose statement.
- Real-world purpose examples: Walt Disney, Patagonia, and Roche.
- Benefits of Twinxter’s 4-step approach: Leveraging Collective Intelligence, gaining employee perspectives, driving engagement and alignment from purpose to value
Of course, this process of creating a purpose is not done in a day. By embracing our 4-step approach and connecting purpose with strategy, you can pave the way for a thriving organisation that adapts and excels in the face of change. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to unlock the true potential of your entire organisation and drive Business Agility.
Stay tuned for our next newsletter, where we’ll dive deeper into aligning strategy with purpose and embracing a transformation towards Business Agility.
As we believe in the power of sharing, we have a special gift for you. Download our brand-new Ebook, “Leading with Agility” – Transform your business with people-driven agility.
This eBook offers you a wealth of tips and tricks you can experiment with to find your way of working and thinking. A human approach that revolves around people and purpose. That helps you create a differentiating and inclusive journey towards the future of work.
Thanks for reading this blog and looking forward to your response!
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Every day is a great day to transform the way you change. Let’s break the misconceptions and embrace Business Agility together to create a bright future.
I hoop to meet you soon. And don’t hesitate to connect. Additionally, if you have questions leave a comment or feel free to get in touch for a call to discuss how I can further help you on this journey.
Learn. Transform. Thrive.
It’s my purpose to spark the Human X-factor and create purpose driven spaces where everybody is able to grow.
How? Put people & purpose at the heart of your organisation and drive your transformation People Led.
Passionated about living by purpose. Entrepreneur and founder of Twinxter and the TwinxterAcademy, Author of Purpose Driven People, creating business agility & sustainable growth, Co-author of Agile People Principles, Transformational Leadership in the fitness and physical activity sector & Emergence, Creator of the People Journey Circle, Keynote Speaker