Sometimes your company mission can feel far away from your team’s day to day work. Learn how to run a purpose session to connect your team's work to the bigger picture.

Why purpose matters

Most companies have mission and vision statements alongside their strategy which guides the work they do on a high level. However, it is just as important to look at this on a team level by defining your team’s purpose. Doing so helps your team understand how they contribute to overall company success.

Purpose is the reason why your team exists, why it was created, why it is needed in the organization. Having a clear purpose is powerful. It can make work “not just a job” and can bring your people a sense of meaning, motivation, importance, and satisfaction.

High performing teams with both actionable goals or OKRs and a clear purpose have a higher chance of delivering on their commitments. This is because they don’t just know what and how they are doing, but why they are doing it.

Team Purpose Exercise

This exercise will prompt your team to reflect on important questions in order to ultimately create a Team Purpose Statement.

Step 1 - Introduction (5 minutes)

The facilitator explains the exercise and the overall objective. It is often helpful to start any workshop with the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ as it sets clear expectations.

What = working together to define a team purpose statement

Why = to come to an agreed and co-created understanding for the reason our team exists and why we are doing what we do

How = a one hour workshop where we will brainstorm, look at examples, discuss company strategy, and collaborate to come up with one team purpose statement

Step 2 - Reflection and Sharing (10 minutes)

Kick off the session by asking your team members to reflect on these questions:

  • What is our job as a team?
  • What’s our focus? How do we know when we’ve done our job well?
  • Who are we doing it for and why?

Give your team members 5 minutes to reflect on these questions and to take personal notes. In the last 5 minutes, give team members a chance to share out some of the answers they came up with.

Step 3 - Inspiration (5 minutes)

Share examples of Company Purpose Statement to get them in the right mindset. You can make it into a quick game where you share the Purpose Statement and they have to guess what company it is from. Make sure to include your own Company Purpose Statement if you have one!

Patagonia - Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Google - To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Ikea - To create a better everyday life for the many people .

Step 4 - The Big Picture (10 minutes)

One of the keys to unlocking your team’s purpose is finding how the work you do contributes to overall company success. Review your company strategy and discuss specifically what your team has an effect on.

Step 5 - Take a shot (10 minutes)

Now is the time for each of your team members to write their own Team Purpose Statement. They should take into consideration the reflection questions, the purpose statement examples, and your company Goals/OKRs.

Step 6 - Put it all together (20 minutes)

Lastly, the team will work together to combine their individual statements to one Team Purpose Statement in 20 minutes and for the statement to have no more than 20 words. To start, each person should shortly present theirs to the rest of the team. After that, it is up to the team to decide how they want to work together to create a final product that everyone supports.

Once your Team Purpose Statement has been finalized it is time to celebrate! Decide as a team where you want to display this statement and how to incorporate it into your way of working.

Now that you know the steps, it's time to run a Purpose Session with your team!

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