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Activate Purpose

One of the Seven Crucial Conversations (7CC)


What goes on in an Activate Purpose conversation?

It is likely that you see them all the time. Imagine a leader saying to his team: “Deep inside I know that each of you has what it takes. I want you to dig down deep, find it and believe in it. I want you to strengthen it and not let anything get in our way. Why? Because we are here to create something extraordinary together.”

It can be easy to confuse the Activate Purpose conversation with the documents that companies create to support that conversation, e.g. mission, vision and values statements.

In short, the ultimate purpose of any company is to create value and the job of leaders is to release that value. To do that, leaders have to choose to believe that the potential for higher performance always exists in people and business organizations and that leadership’s role is to release it by identifying and removing limitations of all kinds.

So what is actually going on in the Activate Purpose conversation? What are leaders actually doing? There are three things:

Defining the kind of value that the purpose of a company is to create.
Identifying the factors required for stakeholders to chose in, engage, align and drive this kind of value.
Identifying the resisting factors that will need to be anticipated, managed and mitigated.
As such, an Activate Purpose conversation at its best will be consistent with the principles of Appreciative Inquiry.

What management practices are required?

Application exercises:


Do you agree with this premise?
What are the implications of this for training effective leaders?

Practice writing a short “purpose” script for a team and present.

Apply Force-Field Analysis:

Use a purpose statement(s) as the desired future state.
Discuss how this activity relates to activating purpose and belief in unrealized potential.

The Activate Purpose Conversation is the first of the Seven Crucial Conversations (7CC). It is declaring an inspiring purpose and setting the parameters required for a business organization to implement it.

Declaring and communicating the design intent for a business organization to add value and attract resources across a system of stakeholders and customers.

The goal is for a group to align on purpose to deliver targeted value together. In this crucial conversation all issues related to activating purpose are driven to resolution in a team, business and organization.

This crucial conversation includes these deliverables:

Statement Of Extreme Value
System-of Customers Analysis
Operational Purpose Statement
Vision & Mission Statements
Core Values Statement

Achieving the goal of a fully activated purpose begins with a clear definition of purpose. A purpose is the reason for which something is created, exists or is done. An individual, team, business or organization with an activated purpose will be clear and fully aligned with that purpose.

The attributes of a complete and aligned purpose for a team or business include:

Serves the needs of a target customer and market.
Threads the needle to satisfy the needs of all key stakeholder groups.
Is at a minimum compelling and inspiring to target customers, channel partners and employees.
Defines winning niche and requirements for competitive advantage from the perspective of a living business competing to survive and thrive in a business ecosystem.
Creates the conditions for change readiness and resilience.


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