Last week I wrote about the need to get things right, the fear of making a mistake and the negative impact these have on innovation and progressive thinking. The post clearly struck a chord – it trended for a few days (a first for me!) and I had lots of private and public messages in response. One comment highlighted the need to be clear on purpose as a means of countering limiting patterns of behaviour. At a team level, while there is still a need to uncover the habits of thinking individuals have developed over years, focusing on the Vision and purpose of the organisation and the team, offers team members a potentially different way of thinking about and approaching their work.  

It stands to reason that if I know our organisation’s Vision is to be the leader in a particular field or my team’s purpose is to grow a market segment, then I have permission to set aside the need to get something right or perfect. I consciously give myself permission to innovate, think creatively and be progressive in my work. In effect, I’m giving myself a leave pass to operate in a new or slightly different way.

So many of the organisations I work with have articulated their Vision and Purpose but what it truly means and how it is really to be interpreted is not always understood at the team level. I would suggest, it’s not always understood nor tested even at the executive team level.

One simple question I encourage leaders and teams to ask themselves is

“If this is our Vision, if this is our Purpose then what does this mean for how we should approach our work?”

That is, what is the mindset and what are the behaviours we agree to adopt in our team that will help us achieve that Vision and Purpose?

This is not a quick conversation. I spend hours working through this with teams. The answers often need interrogating; So if we have this mindset what will we gain? What will we potentially miss? What will be the impact if we start behaving in this way? What processes and systems do we need to put in place to support us? Depending on how deeply ingrained the habits of thinking or patterns are, team members may have differing ability to work through alternative approaches and individuals may need specific support to make the changes.

What is important here is that a conversation designed to align teams around the Vision and Purpose takes place. In having that conversation, individuals are able to challenge the habits of thinking that keep them stuck and the team begins to create a culture that supports the achievement of the Vision.