Shifting your organization to the future
How can we change our organizations so that they become tools we can use to shape our society and collective future; a future that is more sustainable and equitable for us and for those who come after us?
All change starts with a question
Through questions, organizations can transform to a new normal; one that acts meaningfully in its environment, aims for 100% well-being and views money as a means, not an end.
Professors Nick Barter and Chris Fleming of Griffith University advise MBA students and executives to ask curious questions as the key to driving change in their organization. This type of questioning makes room for exploration and innovation and questions are less confrontational than statements.
Does your organization’s vision or mission perpetuate a world in which you want to live?
Find out your organization’s purpose and ask questions about what that permits and perpetuates. Vision and mission are at the core of how an organization considers itself and what it wants to achieve. They are the framework for conversations and decisions, guiding expections of behaviours in the organization.
If you want to have a sustainable future, focus on your vision or mission statements as they inform what type of future you are asking your employees and stakeholders to build. Take into consideration if the statements are about the organization only or do they incorporating a larger purpose?
Vision and mission statements should recognize that organizations are tools to shape the world around us, where the focus is on something that is truly worth trying to perpetuate; a world in which we all want to live and thrive.
Answering the vision question in the affirmative
- The clothing company Patagonia, anwers its vision question in the affirmative. “We’re in Business To Save Our Home Planet… At Patagonia, we appreciate that all life on Earth is under threat of extinction. We aim to use the resources we have – our business, our investments, our voice and our imaginations – to do something about it.”
- The Netherlands-based Triodos Bank’s vision and mission states: “Triodos Bank is in business to help create a society that protects and promotes the quality of life of all its members, and that has human dignity at its core.”
- UAP (the world’s largest art manufacturer), has developed a mission and vision “To keep exploring and creating visionary projects for the benefit of the place, the people and the planet.”
Creating an affirmative vision for your organization
If your organization does not have an affirmative vision or mission, start by writing down what you think it is, then ask:
- Does the vision consider our impact on the world around us? Our wellbeing? Those that will live on this planet after us?
- What behaviors does it permit?
- Is it inward or outward facing?
- Who is it for?
- Why are we doing what we do?
- What is it that we want to perpetuate?
Answering this last question is likely to be aspirational: which is exactly the point of the exercise. It allows you to develop a new vision, with better purpose for the future.
Making Your Vision Memorable
The challenge in creating a new vision is whether it will be memorable for all members of the organization, from stakeholders to employees, customers and anyone in between.
- Can this vision be articulated in one or two sentences? Is it memorable?
- Would you feel comfortable sharing this vision with family and friends?
- Is this the vision of an organization you want to work for?
- Is this the vision of an organization you would want your children to work for?
Continue to Evolve
Your vision or mission may take years, not weeks or months to develop. Consider the word ‘organization’ as a verb; you are all actively engaged in the process of organizing, the business is in flow and the job of organizing never stops. Therefore, it is important to continue to evolve through conversations and questions.
“Does your organization’s vision perpetuate a world you want to live in?” Nick Barter and Chris Fleming for Coporate Knights, Retrieved 10 November 2020.