Most organizations find themselves going through a transformation process which might vary in scope and depth. People’s engagement is one of the most important factors which will determine both short term success and long-term sustainability of transformation outcomes. But to engage people might be a challenge for organizations either because purpose is not clear, or it is not aligned with people’s motivation. To understand the importance of having a meaningful purpose for transformation is one of the keys to successfully drive the process. It is the transformation purpose which will be decisive not only to achieve people’s engagement to drive the process but also will be essential to ensure organization sustainability in the long-term.
Difference between “end” and “means”
What is the organization purpose? To ensure not only success in the short term but also in the long one, an organization should have a meaningful purpose. The transformation process should be aligned with this meaningful purpose to reinforce the organizational identity throughout all the process. To achieve the “buying-in” and engagement from the people who already ascribed to the organizational purpose, the transformation should be aligned with it. “Profit” will be the measured of organization’s performance when it is fulfilling its purpose and will be increased with both organizational efficiency and impact on people’s lives. But, what happens if both transformation and organizational have profit as its only or most important purpose and everything else is just a mean to achieve a greater profit? Sometimes profit might be disguised as “performance” and although we are all familiar with Machiavelli’s phrase “The end justifies the means”, do we all know what does it mean in practice?
When “means” have become the “end”
Machiavelli’s phrase warns us about the importance not only to keep the difference between the “end” and “means” but also to never turned the latter into the former. It is quite easy to see this in politics within a democracy where we can define “profit” as “votes” and the “purpose” as the “proposal”. A politician needs “votes” as an organization needs “profit” but if the politician put “votes” as the “end”, he will be delivering any proposal it takes to get votes, and perhaps might be a very efficient politician collecting votes, but he will be a demagogue. Both government and non-profit organizations alike have been struggling to be more efficient with public resources to deliver social services, but some of them might have loosed the way and today are more worried about showing their “efficiency” than in fulfilling its purpose. “Profit” organizations could be trapped between survival paradigm and the Louis XIV phrase “Après moi le deluge” which could be translated as “After me the flood”.
Living the Organizational Purpose on Daily Basis
Whether a governmental, non-profit or profit organization it is importance to relate with their meaningful purpose on daily basis. Each member of the organization should know how he or she is contributing to a meaningful purpose to give meaning to their actions. Motivation is based on meaning, so is not surprising that the “money” has become the only source of motivation in many organizations which end is “profit”. The transformation process could be an opportunity to find a meaningful purpose and to live upon it on daily basis by reducing management cycles in an agile way to keep motivation and engagement at all organizational levels building a healthier organizational culture and ensuring business results not only in the short term but also long one. It is important to remember that “we are what we do”, and our actions are driven by our purpose in both organizations and life. Ultimately, from that purpose and actions arousing from it, an organizational identity will be built that will be a source of motivation if makes people proud.