Transformative Common Mission:
Observed in every great company was a mission inspiring people to work for reasons other than money. It might not have been plastered on every wall, but it was sensed. For example, the de facto mission at Ventana Medical Systems was “find cancer faster” – pretty inspiring. Their more abstract mission is to improve the quality of life of patients. Should anyone, Ventana or someone else, learn how to detect cancer instantly, new horizons with a new mission await, so be versatile or dissolve.
Why Have a Mission?
Money does not inspire in the same way as a socially beneficial mission. If a company lacks a mission that engages everyone, perhaps it should question what it does from a larger perspective. If it does have an inspiring mission, leadership can create a future vision and a pathway leading toward it. A mission in this sense says what an organization exists to do, and by implication what it will avoid doing. And the mission should be transformative, not a platitude from a stagnant company just harboring cash flow. Once a leadership team has a transformative mission and a vision to go with it, lean literature is loaded with collaborative methods like hoshin kanri to align everyone.
Given that we are entering a world in Compression, a deeply transformative mission presumes that you agree that we need a world in which human systems co-exist with nature; that you and everyone in your organization should be symbiotic with it. If you are a leader, this may be deeper water than you and they can immediately dive into. If so, deeply reflect on the modules called Compression Thinking first, and guide others in the organization through it. Otherwise, many will think you are off your rocker.
Developing a New Mission
Deciding on a new purpose or mission for an organization is no small matter. Doing it too often confuses everyone. You have to mull it over, testing, probing, and engaging in systemic thinking. But a mission that everyone salutes is important. People will literally die for a mission they deeply believe in. Few will die just to make money.
The question to ask when conceptualizing a mission is “How can we contribute to building a regenerative world?” “Regenerative” connotes that nature is healing itself – and that the work organization is as adaptive to changing conditions as it can become.
Having a regenerative mission is totally unlike maximizing profit. It’s not even a vision of some future state. It’s a statement, or common understanding of what the organization exists to do. That could be as simple as “help people dig dirt” — but done in a way that preserves nature and topsoil.
Sometimes, as with health care, a mission is so obvious that it hardly needs stating. When it’s not obvious a stated mission curbs flying off in all directions. Of course, people will never agree on everything – and shouldn’t – but if all are dedicated to the same cause they are likely to regard differences as an opportunity to be imaginative.
Setting Goals for “Implementation”
An organization’s mission rarely changes. Setting “goals” gives an ideal mission traction on an operational road, and those change regularly. A goal is an objective with mileposts for transformation or improvement. Everyone can work toward something operationally specific and expect to meet a goal within months or years. But becoming a VLO with a regenerative mission is paradigm changing. See the Guide to Compression Thinking.
Transforming into a VLO that supports regeneration of nature is a shift so enormous that just becoming a VLO may be all you can bite off at first. Each organization is unique. Strategize an operational transformative pathway using goals; no more than 3-4 at once. People can’t concentrate on more than that at a time. Furthermore, whether large or small, rigid bureaucratic hierarchies are hard to escape. Transformation can’t go any faster than large numbers of people can learn new ways.