How To Design A Purposeful Organization


"The challenge for the organizational architect is to systematically create the blueprint for an organization that consciously connects everything to purpose," explains author  Clive Wilson, in his book, Designing the Purposeful Organization. "The product of doing this are measurable results and, importantly, a felt sense of success."

Wilson's book is packed with case studies and activities that help you put to practice in your organization the learnings from the book.

Clive Wilson

One of the activities that I found most interesting and revealing is Wilson's "Where Did They All Go and Why?"
  • Think of the household names of just a decade or so ago that are no longer with us, write their names on a sheet of paper, then make brief notes on what happened to them and why. 
  • Then, ask yourself, to what extent was it to do with their purpose (e.g. a lack of purpose, an unclear purpose, an uninspiring purpose or purpose being somehow out of sync with stakeholder needs or the marketplace)?
My other favorite part of the book is the "10 Questions on Engagement," that all start out with, To what extent...
  1. ...does your organization facilitate opportunities for engagement within and between all stakeholder groups, so that they may share perspectives, learn and grow together in support of the organization's purpose?
  2. ...do people come together to examine the way things are done, criticize processes and behaviors with a view to evolving a shared best practice?
  3. ...is attention paid to establishing a positive culture for engagement, so that criticism is welcomed in a spirit of openness and shared learning without blaming or diminishing individuals?
  4. ...has the organization established the key skills for the engagement of those involved in its work and formed this into a curriculum of learning that is effectively tuned to its purpose?
  5. ...are there opportunities for people to come together at critical times, such as strategic changes, team forming and development, project alignment and problem solving?
  6. ...are learning programs and critical events systematically timetabled and well facilitated so that engagement is translated into commitments to action?
  7. ...when people make commitments to action do they then receive managerial support and coaching to ensure action is taken?
  8. ...is there systematic follow-up of commitments arising from group engagement to celebrate the gains made and to share associated learning?
  9. ...does the organization have suitable systems in place to store knowledge airings from engagement that also facilitates ongoing engagement with and evolution of the knowledge to keep it alive and effective?
  10. ...does the organization have a communications strategy that facilitates and supports engagement in alignment with the organization's purpose?

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