Traditional Mission Statement vs. An Emergent Business Model, and The ‘Business Purpose’ / ‘Higher Purpose’

©Patrick Trottier, October, 2021. All rights reserved.

I was asked this week why I do not use the term ‘Mission Statement’ as is the traditional standard for the MBA and the traditional OD business focus and strategy. My general answer – ‘Those ‘Mission Statements’ seemed all sort of the same and constituted very grandiose words… ‘To become ‘the best”, ‘to become the ‘greatest”… ‘to become the first”… ‘to provide customers with superb value, highest quality service, excellent support’, bla, bla, bla… They just all just started to sound the same. And yes, people went back to their day-to-day work all pumped up and passionate. However, after about a few weeks, things just stayed the same as people were very, very busy at their usual work load.

Yes, I use to facilitate many Mission / Vision and Values ‘off-sites’ in the 1980s – 90s. I got good at it. However, those traditional ‘off-sites’ were not enough to sustain the level of commitment related to the words developed and became redundant and superfluous for various reasons that are clarified throughout my writings.

Basically, those mission statements were ‘static’, while the world was changing rapidly around them. I took notice, and so did my clients.

I started writing, talking about and developing within my applied practice things like ‘Re-framing into an emergent ‘Business Model, ‘A Higher Purpose’, A Living Culture™, A Living Vision™ moving towards an Emergent Organization™, etc. (much more than being ‘agile’, or ‘change management’ or even ‘traditional OD’. Clients liked such and such made a positive difference, so I continue this emergent approach to this day.

Thus, within my own evolutionary journey influenced by my own thinking, my practice and my clients, I journeyed into my development of ‘Emergent Organizational Development® (EOD®). I began to realize the limitations of traditional 20th Century OD thinking and practices and evolved my own applied practice while keeping some key OD fundamentals while moving into the 21st Century and thus, EOD® was created.

Static Mission vs. An Emergent Business Model, A Business Purpose and A Higher Purpose

My own evolution in thinking had two simple reasons to move from a static ‘Business Model’ and a ‘Mission Statement’ to an emergent Business Model and ‘Purpose / Higher Purpose’ emergent processes.

1. A ‘mission’ has a beginning and an end. A ‘Purpose / Higher Purpose’ emergent process does not – it lives, emerges and evolves with the changes and complexities of its internal and external environments.

2. The traditional business model is also mostly static and is held onto even in our world(s) of rapid change and complexities. In addition, a great percentage of CEOs / Presidents change every few years and they bring in their own people mostly because the current business model is not working. The current business model probably worked for awhile but was not able to ‘shift’ as the business world shifted. Thus, a new Sr. Management comes on board ‘to make their mark’ with another static business model and eventually this disruptive pattern to the organization continues.

3. There seemed to be a disjoint, a conflict of sorts between the reality of corporate values (vs the pretty words hanging on the walls) and many Sr. management’s personal / family / social / community values (the same with many people’s personal values and their ‘experiences’ with the organization at all levels).

A ‘Purpose / Higher Purpose’

A ‘Purpose / Higher Purpose’ is continuously emerging as an organization’s internal and external environments are continuously emerging, thus such is a living thing, not a ‘static thing’.

As we are living with rapid change and greater complexities, the traditional ‘business model thinking’ does not work. Moving toward an ’emergent business model’ allows for ‘shifting’ mindsets and business strategies as novel technologies, changing markets, new competition, price points, customer expectations, etc., etc. shift at a rapid rate.

No one can 100% predict the future, but we can become more aware of the shifting trends and pattern influencers that may develop into ‘determinates’ that mold our ever changing realities.

At the same time, we know that the 200 year old traditional, industrial age hierarchies of ‘boxes’ and restraints based on position and status to hold onto the illusion of power and control does not ‘fit’ the modern world anymore.

We think now in terms of ‘collaborative networks’ supported by novel technologies, new patterns of relationships, open information and business systems and where what matters is not ‘position’, but the ‘ways and means’ of working together, integrated competencies and emergent thinking focued to emerging goals and the implementation of such.

When working with organizations in re-framing their own thinking within their ‘business model’ and as a foundation to ‘re-frame’ the organization as a ‘systemic, emerging whole’ along the EOD® Platform, we began to co-develop the difference and the relation between their ‘business purpose’ and their ‘higher purpose’.

Simply, an emergent ‘Business Purpose’ within the EOD® Platform is the reason the business exists within itself and identifies its ‘ways and means’ to continually achieve such as an emerging process for sustainability, viability and vitality as its own entity and the people that interact with itself – all employees (management and non-management), its supply chains, and its customers / market, etc.

A ‘Higher Purpose’ is what that organization wants to influence and to contribute in its people, its community, its society and maybe even to the planet itself as a continuous, emerging process.

The Business Purpose allows the organization and its people to co-achieve its Higher Purpose. (PT)

So, there you have it… as simple as I can explain my own shift in mindset, and changes in my own practice manifested in an applied process throughout EOD®…

I hope you got something out of this brief write-up…

Patrick :o)

About Patrick A. Trottier

I am a 30 plus year applied Organizational Development practitioner having honed my craft in the U.S., Canada and internationally. Presently living in beautiful Vancouver, B.C., I am currently developing the next evolution of O.D. termed; 'Emergent Organizational Development and Emergent Change® (EODC)®, and focusing on Emergent OD®, Emergent Change® and the development of Emergent Organizations® within my professional practice.
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