Commentary: Vision + Purpose = Passion

Lead Author: Dr. Jeff Howe

Publish date: 02.16.2012


In a previous Dovetail Report (Organizational Visioning and Planning, 2005) we discussed the importance of the organizational vision, especially in times of stress.  In that article we pointed out that a clear organizational vision is the anchor that keeps a company from drifting into oblivion when the marketplace challenges the very nature of why a company exists. The process of choosing an organizational vision is one of focusing or aiming all the resources of the organization at a clear and common desired outcome.  This clear focus improves both organizational motivation and efficiency.


Many great organizations have discovered that what is true for the organization as a whole (a clear vision) is equally true for each individual within that organization. In the case of the individual it is often referred to as the individual’s purpose.  And it is as valuable to clarify the purpose of the individual in life, as it is to clarify the purpose of the position they fill within the organization.  This purpose gives focus and direction similarly to the vision of the organization.


While it is quite common to have a “purpose” statement on an individual’s job description, it is less common for an organization to get as personal as to explore the raison d’être (or reason for being) for an individual.  Yet high performing organizations have found that when an individual’s purpose in life is aligned with the company’s vision you get highly motivated individuals and highly successful organizations.  In fact, if you can get a combination of highly motivated and highly skilled individuals in alignment with the organization’s vision you have possibilities of greatness.


So, what do we mean by individual purpose?


Steven Covey stated, “writing a mission statement can be the most important activity an individual can take to truly lead ones life.”[1]  An individual’s personal mission statement is the roadmap to achieving one’s purpose in life. An individual’s life purpose has been defined as “a brief description of what you want to focus on, what you want to accomplish and who you want to become in a particular area of your life over a period of time.”[2]


When a company is willing to understand and support an individual in the achievement of that individual’s purpose and proactively tries to align the activities in the organization with that person’s life goals in an effort to achieve the organization’s vision the two parties (individual and organization) link to each other at the heart level.  It is through this linkage of purpose that great companies achieve passionate employees and tremendous success.


Above all, through this process the organization demonstrates a level of understanding and caring for individuals that can be unsurpassed by any other measure.  And as the saying goes, “Caring, in a business world grown numb, is an almost unfair advantage.”


Dr. Jeff Howe

February 2012



[2]  Utah, New Employee Training, 2009.