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Purpose & Values: what's different going forward?

The Status Quo

21st Century Orgs

Purpose is static and unchanging.
Purpose likely to be evolutionary and may change over time.
Purpose has probably barely been thought about until recently and, if it is, then it’s formally discussed by senior leadership at the organisational level.
Purpose is talked about all the time and is formally discussed at the organisational, team and individual level.
“Values”: mostly concerned with a list of well known, single words that usually describe what an organisation thinks it is (or needs to be).
"Values" are important, but equally (if not more so) is the recognition that people must discuss and explore the underlying "beliefs" they hold.
Values mostly communicated through professionally produced tools and reminders - the senior leadership is effectively selling the values to the organisation.
Values are clearly defined, often through an expanded document covering what they mean (like a constitution), to illustrate their importance and are reinforced everywhere, from training to regular “values days" - everyone is responsible for the values.
Different sets of values as you travel “up” the organisation - e.g. what is acceptable changes with seniority.
Values are applied unilaterally and everyone is held to account for them to the same standard.
Efficiency and standardisation are the default concerns of the organisation; this position is so deeply ingrained in the mental model of employees that they may neither recognise they’re doing it nor accept there is any other way.
Adaptability mixed with personal mastery/wholeness is intentionally pursued as the default concern. Efficiency and standardisation are widely recognised as a problem, not embedded in the mental model. It’s only seen as worthwhile under particular, localised scenarios.
Life in the organisation is characterised by an inwardly looking mindset: what’s in it for me/us.
Life in the organisation is characterised by an outwardly looking mindset: how is the purpose best achieved.
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  1. John Featherby

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