Why Do We Exist?

The process of defining a success moment is quite easy. First, leaders should grasp and articulate their organization’s mission. This comes down to a few simple questions: Why do we exist? What do we do? For whom? It’s easy to get distracted and start talking about why you wish you existed. A school superintendent might give a speech saying that “the public education system must be protected.” Really? The true purpose of education is to prepare children for success as adults, not to protect the education system. Why would we protect any structure that is failing to deliver desired results?

So often the management teams we work with want to blow right past this conversation. They treat it as a bunch of gobbledygook. I have had senior executives responsible for budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars tell me “they’re too busy doing work to make time to figure out what they ought to be doing.” I’ve watched smart, experienced executives rush into decisions about what they’re going to do, what they’re going to spend money on, and what projects they want to advance, rather than answer the difficult question of why. Why spend money on high-speed rail network if success is defined as preventing terrorist attacks? Conversely, if success is defined as reducing automobile travel by 30 percent by 2021, then why are you spending so much on preventing terrorist attacks? Why not spend more money on high-speed rail?

Understanding and articulating why the organization exists in the first place is critical, you’re talking about the purpose of the entire organization, the reason everyone bothers to get up in the morning to come to work. If anything deserves to be clear and precise, this is it. It is the foundation on which the entire organization sits. Take your time, and deliberate over nuances. We have spent hours working with teams to narrow their mission statements to exactly the right vocabulary and phrasing.

Continue reading how TransPro helps organizations define success in Saving America.


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