The importance of having a common purpose

Without a clear mission & vision, joined forces around it, every challenge, every day to day business problem, every situation is confrontation with the fact there is no common ground or purpose. Spending time to align this helps you to prevent losing time, effort and money. 


Two frriends had an idea and created a business around it. Time goes fast, first successes occur, the idea becomes a business, the business becomes an organization, and suddenly more people join, and investors are interested.
Questions like “why are we doing it?” “what did we want to achieve?” rise… answers are difficult, sometimes very personal and sensitive.


In individual intakes I clarify the situation. Why is the issue or question relevant to them now, at this moment in their life? What brought them here? On this position? And what will be for every one of them be a good result of the intervention, the facilitation I bring?

I dig a little bit deeper. What drives them? Why this idea was important to them? What do they want to achieve? With their business? In their lives.

After the intake round, I make a summary and we sit all together. I bring the summary, ask for initital reactions “what does it do to you the hear this?” “What strikes or surprises you?”. Is their a common ground ? To all participants recognize what is in common and what is different? What is necessary to come to a shared image of the situation they are in now? Or, what is needed to achieve it?

Based on this analysis, I start to establish a shared vision and mission, for the business, organization. 

Guiding questions are:
  • What do we want to bring to the world? Why do we exist? 
  • What do we stand for (qualities, values?)
  • What do we want to achieve ?

I help them to make this more concrete and tangible. What does it mean for roles and responsibilities in the team? Too often, start-ups and scale ups fail because of lack of role  definition and unclear mutual expectations on management level.
What are the consequences for short and mid term strategy and goals? 
What are the consequences for them personally?

Based on these questions we created an action plan together

An example
A new investor came on board in a SME. This had impact on the board of directors. With the board of directors (5 people) we sharpened the vision and mission for the near future. They shared market information, clarified what they wanted to achieve in their branch and made explicit where they wanted to create a difference in the world. Using Simon Sinek’s golden circle they agreed upon why they were part of this company, what they wanted to do and how that made them unique and special. 
We used several tools and ended the day with 5 objectives for the next 18 months and an action list specifying who in the team would be responsible for what. The CEO left the meeting with a clear plan and a clear purpose to share with the rest of the organization. The initial “turbulence” new investors created could was put at ease. The outcome of this alignment session with board members offered a clear direction for the entire organization.

In a start up, initial founders started out of friendship and sympathy for the idea one of them had, an with the support of friends and family, tension rose quiet fast.

I ran a similar process, individual intakes, a plenary session to discuss the differences and the complementarity. And finally had a session with the three of them preparing for a constructive way of ending the collaboration. Two of the three initial founders stepped out, and the initial idea owner went on. There was not enough common ground, not enough  alignment at individual purpose level. My intervention supported the processes in facilitating a dialogue between friends who became business partners, and had difficulties putting on the table that this did no longer work, preventing a painful and ugly fight.

Did this story make you curious?

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