Category Archives: Purpose

Beautiful Work.

How our Organisation’s Purpose guides what we do.

Structure & Process uses an explicit company purpose statement to guide its work. I recently wrote about encounters for meaningful collaboration – our company purpose until July 2017. I have also written about Purposeful Organisations in which people love to work in February 2015.

Over the years that Structure & Process has existed, our purpose has changed many times. We have moved between “large”, “high”, more abstract goals or visions, and more down-to-earth manifestations of what our company intends to bring into the world.

We are looking for words that inspire and guide us: They tell us what to put attention to and what to work on. They should also be inviting for others to engage with us. We are looking for a quality that “opens” – that invites new conversations about things that matter – and that “closes” – moves to action – at the same time.

Flipchart on 'beautiful work'
The first flipchart on which “beautiful work” appeared – June 2017

We phrase Purpose positively, as an outcome that we want to see in the world: At the same time, we acknowledge the flipside of every positive statement: A sentiment of pain or suffering, something that is “wrong” or less than ideal for us, and calls for improving, fixing, bettering.

Over two Partner Meetings this summer, we changed our company purpose again. It became, short and simple: “Beautiful Work.”

Our current company purpose: “Beautiful Work”

When we started out with Structure & Process in 2012, we noticed that many people around us were dissatisfied with their work: They disliked their work environments, their bosses, their coworkers or their staff. Some questioned the meaning of their work fundamentally, being disillusioned with capitalism and looking for more depth in their work.

Then I noticed that I was not happy myself: I loved my freedom and autonomy as a self-employed person, but missed the deep connectedness and shared meaning that I had experienced living as a Buddhist Monastic.

Herbstmorgen
One of the buildings of Won Kwan Sa International Zen Temple, where I spent two very good years between 2008 and 2010.

Continue reading Beautiful Work.

Encounters for meaningful collaboration (a few words on our organisation’s purpose)

I procrastinated publishing this post long enough that our organisation’s official purpose changed meanwhile. :-) I still find it valuable to share though, as it expresses a nuance on our work that I enjoy.
Even if as a company, we now speak more generally about “beautiful work” (another blogpost will follow), “encounters for meaningful collaboration” are still the heart of what we produce and what we thrive on. I offer this to you, for inspiration and connection! – Martina

We say: Encounters, as in: meeting of real people: Real humans meeting real humans. In all their complexity. With all the potential for change.

We say: “encounters” rather than “meetings”: Encounters are fierce, intensely personal, piercing. They might start subtly, but they carry immense strength. An encounter will change you, and may change your life.

We say: Collaboration, as in: working together to build something. Solving problems. Doing it together as opposed to doing it alone. With shared ownership and active engagement of all parties.
Collaboration may be structured or free-flowing. Rules and roles may appear, change, and dissolve. Collaboration can be clear and collaboration can be messy. Sometimes it is both at the same time.

We say: Meaningful, as in: with purpose. With depth. With intent.
Sinnvoll. Zweckgerichtet. Intentional. We invite depth, feeling, intentionality. We quest into intimate questions of what is important and what not. We care for the personal meaning in what may look to the outside as shared or even collective, large-scale work.  Life is short. What is meaningful to you?

Meaningful collaboration is not: random. “For fun”. An “experiment”. It is dedicated effort towards something significant. Fun and lightness come naturally to the process, but they are not goals in themselves. Enjoyment may be: Deep joy arises when meaning is apparent.

As an organisation, Structure & Process creates “encounters for meaningful collaboration”. In our work as a team, with our clients, in our client organisations. We invite you to join us: to co-create, to collaborate, and engage with the world’s, our communities’ and our shared personal challenges.

We are looking forward to meeting you.

Purposeful Organisations in which people love to work.

150113-CompanyPurposeChangeWe changed our company purpose at our partner meeting in Utrecht on January 13th: “People thriving in collaboration” became “Purposeful Organisations in which people love to work.”

We emphasize “organisations” now. This comes from a better understanding of what our work of the last months has been about: we are interested in _organisations_: structures that are transpersonal, sustainable over a long time, in changing circumstances.

Organisations amplify the powers of the individual and provide an interface for the outside world. They are hubs – points of connection – and fields – spaces from which new directions can emerge.

_People_ are key to this: they make the effort that is necessary to sustain organisations.

Why do we, humans, care about organisations? Why make the effort to build, or work in them?

  1. Because work can be meaningful. (Purpose, Meaning.)
  2. Because work can be satisfying. (Effectiveness. Efficiency. Input-Output. Results.)
  3. Because work can be joyful. (Enjoyment. Process.)

Continue reading Purposeful Organisations in which people love to work.

People thriving

An interesting quote jumped out at me from Brian Robertson’s article on the History of Holacracy®:

“build the healthiest possible system where people thrive.”

Reimo Sandau, who I met in the afternoon, emphasized the word choice to me: “thrive”.

We have been struggling to clearly capture our company purpose in words for quite some time. “Structure & Process” is WHAT we build, WHAT we deliver. But WHY do we do it? What is the _purpose_ of building structures & processes? What are we really working for or towards? WHY is this work important?

Yesterday, we captured this formally in our company purpose for the first time: “Effective collaboration through clear structure and process” became: People thriving in collaboration, through clear structure & process”. 

It is longer and maybe not as smooth, but it is a start to put at the centre of our purpose the core of what this really is about: People. “Thriving.” Living, learning and growing as they work together. Being fully alive.

thrive
intransitive verb \ˈthrīv\

: to grow or develop successfully : to flourish or succeed

This may evolve into “people and organisations thriving” if we consider organisations to have a life of their own, but this will be up to a future governance meeting to decide. :)

Joyful work. Meaningful conversations. Clarity of purpose.

If you’d like to join us, there is plenty of work to be done! We are grateful for new collaborators and for opportunities to apply our skills – helping people thrive in collaboration. Let us know if you see any potential in your environment!

Have a great summer.

On wording Purpose

Effective collaboration needs Purpose. Often, it is helpful to make the purpose explicit: to give words to what the group or organisation aims to achieve.

What are good ways to word purpose?

I like purposes that are worded as an outcome and a process at the same time:

  • “exquisite organisation” (HolacracyOne)
  • “Effective collaboration through meaningful conversations and clear structure” (us, Röll & Korvenmaa)

These  point at a desired future state and at a process of getting there. Or of never getting there, but  infinitely trying. They can be understood as a practise.

Getting started

At the beginning, ANY purpose that a group agrees on can work. It doesn’t need to be great or perfect, good enough to get started is, well, good enough to get started.

Nenásilná komunikace, who worked with us to set up initial structure and group work processes, started with spread NVC in the Czech Republic. This is narrow and relatively vague, but was sufficient to kick things off.

Brian Robertson tells the story of how HolacracyOne started out with a lame Spread Holacracy – also: good enough to start. It can change.

The abstract and the specific

You may find that the initial purpose points at something  specific (“spread Non-Violent Communication”), whereas the organisation is actually about something larger, which it cannot express  at this time.

I recommend to look for something that’s big enough to be inspirational, but focussed enough to be practical and not overwhelming.

  • “To catalyse a community of interest, practice and expertise in Holacracy, in the UK and Ireland.”  is what Agile Organisation currently uses. This may not be massively inspirational, but is very clear and practical.

If in doubt, start with the specific, and then evolve. Use simple words, and keep it short.

Over to you

What are your organisations’ purposes? What do you like about them? How have they evolved? Please share your story!

(This post evolved from an online-conversation with Karolina Iwa of Track2Facilitation. Thank you for triggering it!)

For more links on Purpose, see our Tumblelog!