Can the purpose in the room please stand up?

There’s so much talk about purpose in everything we are examining and I get it and I love it. What I am disillusioned with is that I am involved in pursuing a purpose at work using having conversations that are increasingly bandying the word and it is becoming jargon.

It was affirming to read that my experience is a risk noted in the Deloitte report.

The more businesses talk about purpose, the more it runs the risk of becoming just another corporate buzzword. But in its truest form, purpose is different from the rest. How? Purpose answers an all-important question, “Why does a company exist?”—and the answer can serve as the beacon for all organizational decision-making”.

In my experience, it is really easy to identify a purpose but a lot harder to create a culture that lives it.

Reading this parallel to what goes on in the organisation I work for at the moment highlights for me the distinction between the ideal and the real. We are on the cusp of creating a new learning management system (LMS).

Our purpose for doing this is on the surface aligned to doing good for our customers and our wider industry stakeholders and in principle, the strategies/systems we are building are fit for that purpose. However, the focus on increasing our reach with customers most continues to be distracted by creating tools, not the underlying human factors that need to be addressed if the system is going to serve our purpose i.e. be for the good of learners/learning. Many months have now been spent trying to design a system that will increase the number of customers that the field team interacts with.  Paradoxically meeting a business imperative to grow our customer base but compromising the true intent of the platform, which is to provide more meaningful ways to enable formative assessment and learner agency.

It needs to be stated that at the moment the government has created no fees and an employer trainer subsidy. Awesome for the trainees and for supporting the building industry, but in 6 weeks we increased the numbers of customers by nearly 4000. This is equal to amount we would normally enrol every 6 months.

Quite apart from continuing our b.a.u. service delivery, staff capacity is stretched to the point of breaking. On top of this, teams like mine are expected to support to “speed up training” and encourage and support staff to develop the capability to use the new digital tools.

If our purpose was being fully lived there would be some sort of interruption or correction. Granted, recruitment is back on but at current numbers we are already being overwhelmed by training and developing needs of staff.

Sometimes I wonder…

Who are we actually doing this for? Is it to meet the KPI’s of the Digital GM? Is it…

Simon Sinek’s talk captured this perfectly for me:

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

I’m not convinced that we have got this right- and until what our internal stakeholders are clear on why assess learners in workplaces can’t be easily  rather than using standard assessment workbooks/checklists/tests.

So what am I doing about this as a leader in my org? A good question to answer another time.