Perhaps the biggest transformation we can make in business is to bring our own passions, dreams and purpose right into the heart of the work we do. But what if this is the very thing that is actually stopping business from becoming more conscious and more transformative?
This is the intriguing idea that Holacracy founder Brian Robertson brought up in our call with him last week.
Warning: this could be provocative!
Brian was presenting some pretty radical ideas on the call which could totally turn our relationship to business upside down.
So, be warned, it might provoke you!
What is an organisation’s purpose anyway?
Can our personal dreams and aspirations be the very things that are suffocating our businesses from creating real impact in the world? Well, to really answer that question I think we need to give a definition for purpose, since it can mean a lot of different things!
Here is how Brian defines organisational purpose in his work with companies:
“Purpose is an organisation’s unique capacity to create something new in the world, to bring something new to life, to harness some creativity and express it.”
So, just as you and I are walking our own path in life, trying to find our unique contribution and gift, so an organisation has a purpose or mission of its own.
Not too radical yet right – we’re all pretty familiar with company mission statements. But who decides what the mission is?
Purpose is not created, it’s uncovered
Who decides upon mission or purpose? It’s a question I’ve pondered a lot myself, so here’s my take.
The more aware I become, the more I feel that my own personal purpose in life is not something that I actually create for myself. I create the manifestation of that purpose by trying to build my businesses, and make a difference in the world. But I really don’t think I’m personally deciding that purpose, it’s more like I’m uncovering it and refining it as I go along.
Did Mozart decide to be a composer, or was he just born with this incredible gift for creating music? Did Michael Jordan decide that he should be a basketball player, or was it just there already?
Brian’s point is that the same thing goes for organisations. We don’t create a purpose for our business, we uncover it. It’s not creative work, but detective work.
You’re a parent to your business
Most of us would agree that a really good parent is one who helps their children live their own lives. They get their own agenda out of the way, and guide their child to discover what life is about for them.
They don’t force their child to become a lawyer, because that’s the thing that they wanted to do, and never did. They don’t direct their child to becoming a doctor because they think it’s the most honourable profession. A great parent does all they can to help their son or daughter find their own passion in life, and live their life on their own terms.
So, in the context of good parenting, here is the provocative challenge that Brian laid out:
You are a parent to your own business
As a parent, it is not your job to use your business as a vehicle to achieve your own personal aspirations and dreams. You wouldn’t do this to your human children right?
Your job as a healthy business leader is to acknowledge and honour your personal dreams and aspirations, and then get them out of the way so you can help your business discover its own unique contribution to the world.
I’d love to know what you think
In your work, are you helping your organisation uncover its mission, or are you working out how it can let you do the things you love? Are these two sides contradictory, or can they be integrated? Do you think our personal passion and purpose is a threat to the organisations we work in?
I really want to hear what you think, so post your comments below.
To find out more about Brian’s work and Holacracy, check out this introductory article Organization Evolved: Introducing Holacracy You can also join these Upcoming Free Introductory Holacracy Webinars Enjoy!