Apr 18 - May 8Phase 1May 8 - 27May 28 - Jun 5Jun 7 - Jul 1Phase 2Jul 2 - 14Jul 17 - Aug 14Phase 3Aug 15 - Sep 16
Operational organisation of the company is made of teams created to answer a unique problem and are not permanent. The team is described by its purpose statement (Mission - the problem to solve, vision - orientations of solution and values - respected to make the solution acceptable and success criteria) and cascade a more global purpose statement (one purpose statement mission can help implement another one vision). Therfore each individual works for a purpose stament, not a job description, that also replaces it's objectives : his objectives are the ones of the purpose statement. It creates immediate sense for what she or he does and a space for cooperation. Helps overcome the lack of purpose and creates immediate meaning. If purpose statement are public it also creates transparency.
If you search the web on systems thinking using Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes, and countless others. You will find as Andy points that at the purpose is at the heart of the practical systems thinking approach.
Systems Thinking (Deming and others) is a fundamental challenge to the current management orthodoxy. It is diametrically opposed to command and control thinking. Gone are the functional specialization and procedures. You no longer hear that’s not in my job description” or “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
There have seen some amassing transformation of performance in both public and private sector using the systems thinking method. Including a reduction in failure demand which reducing costs. Phenomenal outcomes, for public services waiting times, reduced from months to next day provision. Employees love the method and become actively engaged.
See Forget your people – real leaders act on the system, posted here on the MIX.http://www.managementexchange.com/story/forget-your-people-%E2%80%93-rea...
Aviva insurance in the private sector has been very transparent in their uses of systems thinking and these two videos below show the repose, I will let the story of Aviva speak for its self.
How do we change thinking?
Aviva Systems Thinking
Systems thinking put purpose at the heart of the organisation and is proven to deliverer amassing results
Thank you Julien and excellent and though provoking dialogue all!
I really appreciate Perry's comment about people being called to a role/org or mission.
Fiona's point about mission and purpose being different was a point I was going to add and certainly agree with her outline. I would add that purpose resides at the individual level. I think of a sense of purpose and feel as though that is highly individualized. I wonder if it isn't an organization's/manager's role to instil a culture (developmental, empowering, inclusive, team-based, agile, innovative, etc.) that is built upon and connected to creating each individual's sense of purpose. That is if each individual can connect to the mission of the organization, the needs of the customer and/or the expectations of the team, then the organization becomes purpose driven. HR tends to shy away from anything that is truly individualized (my experience) because we fear an orchestration, roll-out nightmare if things are not stream-lined, consistent and fair.
What if purpose-driven is built from this individual sense of purpose defined by each individual because of a the supporting team/lead, systems and resulting culture?
Individual divides if 'one size fits all' is applied but individual unites if determined by the individual from aligned list/program to org purpose and strategy.
Fear the situation where we translate another statement (purpose) like we have tried to do the mission statement!
HR's role in this is maybe to introduce individual defined methods/systems for defining roles, expectations, performance, etc. so that sense of purpose can become the culture - be organic.
Fiona's point about the connection to the customer also helps us connect HR if this falls under their wheel-house, to the business.
We are doing a research study with nurse leaders and nurse teams about where they get a sense of purpose and how they sustain it or how it is broken, its link to their engagement at work and their perceptions about its affect on their performance. We know individual engagement is clearly linked to organization performance (my many years at Gallup among other great studies) so if we can link a sense of purpose to engagement and then learn about how we can allow for this to 'happen' in individuals, we might shift the numbers in retention, innovation, quality and overall commitment.
That's very interesting; I'd love to see what is coming out of that - especially from where they feel they get their sense of purpose. I would hope its from the reward of delivering service to patients and their families through true empathy with them rather than from their relationship with the NHS organisation and system which is where its all gone so horribly wrong over the last 30 years.
Purpose is at the very heart of my practical systems thinking approach, and in my view HR and people practitioners should start to become the change it and they want the organisation to be, and I reckon the key area would be around the systems thinking as espoused and demonstrated both academically and eminently practically by Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes, and countless others.
All change beings at the thinking level and not the doing level, yet the result of the change in thinking then delivers change at the doing level. Great intentions, motivation and competencies underpinned by the wrong thinking changes little.
Managers need to recognise the organisation as a system, it’s their job to remove the obstacles within the organisation. They also need to understand human motivation (Dan Pink, Alfie Kohn, etc.). Design of the work from the outside in, and focus on what is the real purpose what matters to the customer. Then, analyse the demand, design measures for what matters, then when you understand the systems thinking that determines the current way of doing things, you simply get the people who do the work to re-design the work in order to achieve purpose and what really matters, and what happens is almost magical! Service improves, costs reduce, morale increases, and the culture change happens for free. At no time do we do anything to the people, we simply get the people to work on the work. That's the systems thinking at the practical and yet quite profound level that I believe HR could help to make organisations more adaptable and adept.
If you want to work more on the Systems Thinking hack, please join the team on page 2!
Hi All! My apology for not yet commenting and adding to this robust discussion! I will be commenting on Thursday. Thank you for understanding around travel and holiday time in the US. I am honored to be a part of the group and hope I can add value to the discussion!
I like the idea of this hack but surely any purpose definition (which should be immediately obvious, not the result of weeks of navel gazing) needs to start from what the organisation's external customers' real expectations are (like a utility company who actually answer the phone). Its their involvement which is key. Employee involvement is valid but only if they know and understand what the organisation is there for and have the ability to think outwards towards where the demand for change, accessibility, service promise and product conformity is coming from. Too often employees are just encouraged to think about themselves (e.g. long winded grievance procedures, engagement surveys like the NHS which leave customer relations to question 48, etc.).
Let's bring the joy of delivering a good service to customers centre stage again, its far more personally rewarding than an appraisal interview.
Richard, I total agree the purpose of an organisation should be obvious, the call centre is a great example.
Identifying the organisation purpose is simple ask your customers, then work backwards to design the service/product the customer wants, this is of-course the exact opposite of what organisation do!
I think we may be trying to make this topic too complex, its basic systems thinking, see Andy Lippok's hack on SYSTEMS THINKING, he and I both belong to a systems thinking group;.
The Unreasonable Learners www.unreasonable-learners.com/
Lifting the human spirit by exploring new ways of working together within organisations.
The min hacks are simply parts the whole. "We know the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" Aristotle
Take the human body for instance. The whole body is a wonderful organism. It is a thinking doing living system as is a organisation. The brain is wonderful it can think of how to build a house but that as far as it can go. The brain needs eyes to see with, the hands to manipulate the materials, the legs to carry everything around with, the back to assist in lifting everything, etc.. All of the parts are wonderful. But they are grossly limited. But, as the whole body, the possibilities are limitless.
"The whole body is a wonderful organism. It is a thinking doing living system as is a organisation. The brain is wonderful it can think of how to build a house but that as far as it can go. The brain needs eyes to see with, the hands to manipulate the materials, the legs to carry everything around with, the back to assist in lifting everything, etc."
Reminds me of the old story about what happened when all the parts of the body competed for who was to be in charge. Its probably too rude to repeat here :-)
Wow, this is a great hack! Thanks, Julien, for getting this going :)
Purpose is powerful and totally underestimated. A crystal clear, relevant and meaningful Purpose has a strong motivational pull built into it because it is teleological by design - we get pulled towards a compelling future that we already know, now we just have to create it together. This also works on the neurological level.
The more clear, relevant and meaningful the Purpose (for all employees, indeed - great points, Maria - for all stakeholders), the greater its pull.
All too often, top management thinks that KPI's (sometimes gazillions of KPI's!) are enough to get managers and employees working enthusiastically...Meaningless statements obviously don't get us jumping out of bed in the morning.
The time invested into describing and even painting the Purpose is a great investment into a healthy and top performing organization that people want to be a part of, or a customer of...
Key Performance Indicators KPIs were invented in order to quantify the un-quantifiable.
Like all targets KPI’s drive the wrong behaviour along with appraisal KPI should be abolished. People go to work to do a good job why would you want to spend 40 m+ hours a week doing a poor job?
I also love this story.
The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre
The French administration in Hanoi (Vietnam) were very troubled by the rat population in Hanoi around the start of the last century, and knowing as they did about rat’s implication in the transmission of the plague, set about to control the population. A simple KPI was set – “number killed” and payments were made to the killers on this basis. There was immediate success with rats being brought in by the thousand and then the tens of thousand per day. The administration was pleased though somewhat surprised by the sheer number. There surprise gradually transformed into disbelief as time wore on and the numbers failed to recede.
You guessed it. The innovative residents of Hanoi had started to breed rats.
Also the pace of business is changing so fast a KPI designed a year ago or six months ago may not help you see important changes you need to make in your business now. Knowing the purpose of the business you working within would be much more inspiring
I am not sure I understand what you are saying?
Once a clear purpose is defined it then is down to the design of the system to achieve the purpose. Believe that those design the system can do a great job at designing a system to achieve the purpose
Deming and others showed that when you look at the performance of an organisation (however you measure performance), about 85% to 95% is due to the system, i.e. the way the work works and is designed. That leaves roughly only about 10% that is due wholly or in the total control of the people doing the work.
Deming, Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes, John Seddon and countless others have demonstrated many times over that you need to get people to begin recognising the organisation as a system, understand human motivation (Dan Pink), look at the design of the work from the outside in, and focus on designing a system to achieve the purpose and what matters to the customer.
This is a great idea. I think if an organization is able to adopt this idea of yours and add my idea about a team being the most basic entity in an organization and the idea that annual review cycles should be replaced with a achievement based review cycle, we have a great organization.
I guess this is the whole idea of a hack. You then mix, match and create something that is larger than everything that goes in..
What I like about this model is that it is a great way of building cross cultural alignment and of enabling teams in complex organisations add value outside of their own areas of responsibility. Sharing purpose allows employees at all levels ensure they are working in an organisation that is right for them. They then have a platform from which they can create value.
Too many organisations specify missions, visions, vaslues, then objectives, goals and targets, and then miss the point! Too few organisations allow the employees to work out what is the purpose of the work and the organisation or the team from the customer's point of view, i.e. what really matters to the customer. So what does this mean for HR? As many people and in particular Fiona has said a number of times, HR must first transform the way it thinks about the organisation, leadership and management, and human motivation. It must realise that the problem is the organisation as a system, i.e. the way the work is designed, and is not the people. The role of management is to remove the obstacles and not manage people, and lastly it must realise motivation is intrinsic not driven by incentives (Kohn, Pink, et al). The key to adaptability is the a priori transformation of our thinking. Purpose is a good place to start.
I would agree purpose is a great place to start, Andy, can I clarify when you say the customer’s point of view, are you meaning the end user the buyer and not the internal customers? The examples I have given i.e Nordstrom, Tata group and the B Team, all have purposes which reach beyond the bottom line profit.
Julien - love the principle of purpose driven organization. As these hacks are notionally about hacking HR, what is HR's role in what you suggest? What implications are there for the HR function - from today's to what you might be imagining in such an organization? Thanks for your hack! Ulrich
I love the description epic adventure! What a great opportunity we have to create organisation that can enable future generations to go on a epic adventure! A company needs to have a purpose statement that employees can buy into before the journey can begin. The dusty old mission stamens need abolished, it serve little purpose! The purpose statement must be one that appeals to new generations they are key to the future.
The Tatra group of companies actual use the words Values and Purpose on their website. Tata companies operate in seven different business sectors: information systems and communications, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals.
“At the Tata group we are committed to improving the quality of life of the communities we serve. We do this by striving for leadership and global competitiveness in the business sectors in which we operate.
Our practice of returning to society what we earn evokes trust among consumers, employees, shareholders and the community. We are committed to protecting this heritage of leadership with trust through the manner in which we conduct our business.”
The Tatar group walk their talk; I think it’s something like 62% of the ownership is in the hands of charities with around 2% of the company owned by the Tatra family.
There are many great companies out there with different structures and that are purpose driven organisations and who truly value employees, let’s learn from them.
The figures show that the traditional listed companies in the US have declined by 40% and by 50% in the UK over the last 15 years. Also a company life span has decreased, I think it’s from 40 years to 15 years! if companies were species they would be listed as endangered!
Over the last few days I have been mulling over, how Hacking HR are going to connect all these min hacks, simply by using the voting process will not take into account that the “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” It’s the interaction between that parts that is as important.
Julian: Love these ideas of having a purpose description and not a job description. Could go further and get the individual to write their job description round the purpose and develop their objectives and gaols around that and values. We could ask “what’s your values add” it could really get people thinking about culture, it could create flexibility, it shouldn’t mean an absence of structure and necessary minimal rules. Bruce could you create a purpose description
Purpose Maximisers - called out Dan Pink in his iconic Drive book and video. And yes Julien, purpose led organisations and people "called" by that purpose is critical.
We know so much from behavioural science about human motivators and yet Maslow's "self-actualisation" feels as far away as ever with the "tyranny of the core business". We are doing doing doing, and so often forget why; for what purpose.
The Charity world has a calling for many people and yet they would still say they have organisational difficulties as the purpose gets lost in the politics.
So we need to keep our purpose as king; talk it up at every conversation and make sure we are driven and inspired; measured and rewarded and checked and balanced by purpose.
Purpose is a key factor, i love the recently lanced B Team, look at . "Working to create a future where the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit" The B Team is undertaking challenges that accelerate toward their vision of business motivated by people, planet and profit. These global business leader are taking the challenge
Before i reply and on a different subject, I don’t think I have said in the group I am dyslexia and can make faux pas in spelling grammar and sequence of words, so I hope the below is clear
It may seem like splitting hairs! However I think a mission statemen is different from a purpose statement. Mission statement hangs on the wall or gathers dust in a drawer! Few know what the mission statement is. I have never known the mission statement of any organisation I have worked for….
Rarely does a mission statement ever get close to connecting with customer. Mission statements are often inward-looking words intended to get everyone in an organisation on the same page. Sort of like, we are nice people who will treat our customers with respect and provide high quality products. Or eve worse the focus on the shareholder!
i.e. AmerisourceBergen Mission Statement "To build shareholder value by delivering pharmaceutical and healthcare products, services and solutions in innovative and cost effective ways. We will realize this mission by setting the highest standards in service, reliability, safety and cost containment in our industry." So what?
The purpose of a company from the customer perspective is I believe a different and should run like DNA through the company’s blood and be part of the culture.
Once the purpose of a company is defined from a customer prospective the system can be designed to achieve the purpose. As your example pointed out Julien, a system needed to be designed to transport people to the westcoast.
Deming wrote* that 94% of Quality issues were caused by THE SYSTEM – and not the Workers.
Managers need to remove barriers from the system where 94% of the outcomes are achieved and not manage the employees. Only when managers ensure the system focuses on the customers purpose can the employee meet customer needs.
Many systems stop the employee from achieve the purpose from a customer perspective, just look at call centers. Customers’ needs are not meet, are the shareholders needs met, maybe, maybe not! We all know that the shareholder myth, is just that, a myth, and has no basis in law or economics and does not deliver better bottom-line results, but too many companies are still focused on the shareholder or themselves.
One of my favorite companies is Nordstrom; Vision, and Values:
Although officially labelled a “goal,” it is clear if familiar with Nordstrom Stores that this is also the Nordstrom sole purpose
“At Nordstrom, our goal is to provide outstanding service every day, one customer at a time.”
Norstrom employee hand book is short and sweet and containing 75 words
"Welcome to Nordstrom. -
We're glad to have you with our Company.
Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.
Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.
Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.”
The purpose is of equal value to both internal and external customer Its focused, clear and easy, Nordstrom system enables the employee to achieve the purpose."
Julien, we are possible on the same page, but expressing it differently. Deming would say - Business activates are connected as part of a larger system purpose. Each activity only exists to serve the purpose of the system. Parts or units do not have a reason for existence that are independent of the larger system it serves and parts cannot have individual goals apart from the system purpose.
Julien, Are you suggesting different individuals have different purposes or that the company has one purpose?. I believe the company should have a common purpose everyone work towards. Work flows across a company and a company is a are living complex adaptive system. Individual purposes like targets divide people focus, can create unintentional consequences and can be counter productive.
The small exercise i described above reinforced Edward Deming and others point, that up to 95% outcomes are based on the design of the system not the ability of the person.
A another interesting way to look at the purpose statement is from a customer’s view point
An example I use is the heating engineer who comes to fix your boiler.
From a company view point the purpose may simply be to fix your boiler.
From a customer’s point of view it would be fix the boil first time.
The customer does not what to have to take a second day off work, possible have no heating for weeks.
Fixing the boiler first time, requires a understanding of variation and what is in the control of the heating engineer and what is in control of the system he works in! I deliver a short 10 minuet exercise on this and once completed the attendees understand the 80% + is in the control of the system he works in. I then ask the attendees, would the heating engineer attitude wd be affected by the system? It a great light bulb moment as 100 % of attendees say yes!
This exercise can positioned around any job
I would suggest the purpose statement is from a customer’s view point
You need to register in order to submit a comment.