Replacing a dying spirit with purpose:
Strategy consulting in the non-profit sector
(For what) Does a charity need purpose? Consulting case in the context of Neuwaldegg’s strategy consulting.
A large charity is working intensively on organisational development. The new structure of an umbrella organisation is intended to generate synergies and strengthen the association nationwide. The social organisation with 3,500 employees has been working in a purpose focused manner for 150 years. With the changing staff (non-denominational, diverse) and nuns gradually dying out, the question of the spirit, of the common identity is being raised. What makes us different from other companies in the industry?
Can purpose replace the dying spirit?
The aim of the support is to refine the common purpose. The management team wants to be introduced to the concept of organisational purpose and to identify the common FOR WHAT. What is important is that how purpose can work does not remain cognitive but becomes tangible. We start with an interactive purpose day. A short format with a high level of interaction is intended to provide a “taster” of the purpose concept. Afterwards, the management group can decide on the next step – even against pursuing this direction if in doubt. The management team’s clear buy-in to the process is crucial to success – hence the start with a “tester workshop”. We design the day as a U process: starting on the cognitive level with refining the case for action – where do we have the greatest need for action as an organisation? What do we need answers to? Using the complexity map, we show how their own company and areas can be classified in terms of increasing complexity and appropriate control logic. Examples of purpose driven organisations show what purpose control can be like and how it can work.
Experience first, then decide
But before it gets too theoretical, we leave the cognitive level and enter the experience. A variation on the personal WHY process puts the managers in touch with their own purpose biography and also in deep touch with each other through the discussion among themselves.
These purpose experiences are then deepened further with regard to the work in the company and are condensed by each person into a personal purpose statement. A common thread runs through this gallery of value and purpose profiles. It provides a view of the organisation’s deeper purpose which the individuals contribute to.
How can we proceed?
We consciously only go as far as here, without refining the purpose to the end. The structure, size and culture of the organisation suggests that if a purpose process is really to start here, a bottom-up process is more functional. We would start with those who are closest to the purpose in their daily work with clients. We now emerge from the U with the management board to reflect on the experience: Where are we already practising or feeling this overall purpose? How could purpose enrich the strategic leadership processes? How would it benefit our employees? Which of our challenges does it provide answers to? So what’s a good next step out of this?