the needs and issues of all your Customers are clearly defined
and understood, and that your people are systematically finding
new ways to serve them better.
companies move more and more to the schemes of empowerment they need to get the very best
out of their people, their ability to use rules, procedures and
tradition to guide those people becomes less and less. The rhetoric
of yesterday is often insufficient to allow people to resolve
the confusion generated by thinking about tomorrow. And yet empowered
people still require guidance if they are to be fully efficient
in working with their colleagues.
The concept of Purpose is about developing
a sense of guidance which is "real-time" and develops
as the situation and the people develop. It is about developing
a clear and unambiguous picture of the role of the business,
and what needs to be done to fulfil it. Key within this is the
Concept of customers. Customers are those entities which you
benefit by fulfilling your role - those whom you serve and add
Purpose is about developing a very clear
understanding of whom your 'customers' are, and how you add value
to them. This can be related from a global market perspective
right down to how one department, or one person, serves others.
To be fully effective it needs to deploy a global perspective
right down to what that means in terms of one person serving
another. Done well it can drive the design not only of products,
but also of service offerings, processes and even places of work.
In its widest sense, Purpose also includes
the concept of the Environment, since this is one way in which
we can all add (or destroy) value for everybody else.
A lot has been written on teamwork, and how important it is to successful
business enterprise. In times of stability it is possible to
be efficient and effective through procedures, rules and habit.
But business is not stable, procedures continually need updating,
habits need improving. Change is too complex to be determined
and addressed by one person, and so a business needs teamwork
across all those involved in working with change if it is to
successfully ride it. The one factor above all others that determines
effective teamwork is that the team should have a common purpose.
Only a common purpose will provide the basis
for transforming a group of independent thinking individuals
into a team. And the quality and clarity of that purpose is key
to harnessing creativity and industry in constructive, as opposed
to conflicting, lines. Where commonality of purpose is clear
great energy exists, where it becomes grey and blurred, rules
and concessions lead to diffused energy and friction. The purpose
of your business is what is in the minds of your people - definitions,
rhetoric, assumptions, self interest and all. So how clear and
common is the purpose of your business?
most companies purpose only really becomes clear and common in
times of crisis. Outside of this people accept the status quo
but change is often resisted. Successful companies have often
found ways to clarify and reconcile purpose without the attendant
crisis, and the trick seems to be in finding where assumptions
might exist, and then placing them on a firmer foundation. The
key element of this for most companies boils down to three questions:
Why are we here? Who do we serve? What do they really want?
Asked who your customers are, most people
can answer, ask what those customers want and the same is true
- ask "why?" and people will begin to make assumptions
- they'll keep to the obvious conclusions, but most won't know
for certain. Which is a pity because within those assumptions
could be a wealth of new opportunities - ways to add value to
the process by which they serve their customer. In managing Tomorrow
understanding and reconciling purpose is key to harnessing and
focusing their capabilities of the business.
Many mechanisms exist to explore the relationship
and help the business focus on getting the real critical factors
right. Effective management is in determining how clear purpose
needs to be, and adopting the right mechanisms to provide and
reconcile that clarification.
To understand more about 'Purpose':
provides an understanding of the
principles that underpin this aspect of the management process
provides a simple scale by which
you might reflect on your own organisation's progress in this
provides a brief overview of some
of the approaches that are available to support further development
on to 'Philosophy'; Return to 'Systematic Management'
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