Define process purpose

“Why do we have this business process?” – One of the major innovations of the New Process Life Cycle is to start with defining the process purpose. This is the initial phase of the New Process Life Cycle. – Even before developing a strategy and designing the process itself.

To know why a process exists, helps you to move our process to a higher level:

  • Purpose creates a sense of unity and a common understanding within the process community.
  • Purpose creates guidance for process design/execution and enables a sustainable process implementation.
  • Purpose inspires and motivates people to live their roles in the process.

In a number of New Process Think Tank sessions, we have discussed how to define a process purpose. Thus, I have integrated all the ideas from these sessions into a first version of the “Define process purpose” process. So here it is: Version #1 of the “Define process purpose” process.

Click on the activities to open the info-boxes with all the details:

Define process purpose
Assess process purposePurpose okay?Prepare purpose workshopModerate purpose workshopParticipate in purpose workshopCommunicate workshop resultsNew Process Life Cycle

Assess process purpose

The New Process Life Cycle starts with the definition of the purpose of your process. Knowing why a process exists will help you to move the process to a higher level by:

  • Creating a sense of unity and a common understanding within the process community
  • Providing guidance for process design/execution and enabling a sustainable process implementation
  • Inspiring and motivating people to live their roles in the process

A purpose can be defined in a purpose statement answering the questions why a process exists.

If you already have a purpose defined check if this is still up-to-date:

  • Does it fit to the overall purpose of your organization?
  • Does it support the strategy of your organization?
  • Does it reflect the needs of the stakeholders of your process?
  • Does it reflect the values and core competencies of the process community?
  • Does it reflect your value proposition?

For a comprehensive opinion interview a sample of members of your process community.

Purpose okay?

Decide if it is necessary to review or define a process purpose.

Prepare purpose workshop

Before starting the development of the process purpose it is recommended to think about the following basic principles:

  • The procedure should be as transparent as possible for your process community.
  • The procedure should be open for everyone.
  • The procedure itself will already be a joint experience for all participants.
  • The purpose evolves over time and will be reviewed regularly. It is an ongoing process.

Typically a workshop to define a process purpose consists of the following agenda items with regards to the content:

  • Introduction of the workshop target and procedure (30m)
  • Introduction of participants (30m)
  • Review of the organization’s purpose (60m)
  • Review of the organization’s strategy (60m)
  • Brainstorming of stakeholder needs (90m)
  • Brainstorming of values and behaviors (120m)
  • Brainstorming of core competencies (60m)
  • Brainstorming of value proposition (60m)
  • Deduction and formulation of process purpose statement (120m)

In a first step start with defining the workshop setup:

  • Location: If possible the workshop should be performed as a 2-days off-site workshop at an inspiring location outside the normal work environment. In case of a remote workshop the agenda items should be distributed to 2-4 days.
  • Date: Decide about the date for performing the workshop. A nice way to integrate people even before going into the content use a doodle to find the date which fits for most of the potential participants.
  • Moderation: If you in your role as Process Owner would like to participate in the discussion it may be helpful to ask one of your Process Architects to moderate the workshop. Or involve an independent external moderator. But please keep in mind that you are still accountable for the results in your Process Owner role.
  • Participants: Even in case of a very large process community it is recommended to start with a workshop group of 6 to 10 people. – If necessary measures to scale the process purpose can be defined later on. To setup this workshop group a representative sample from the process community has to be selected. There are several ways to create this sample. To increase transparency on the procedure a message (e.g., mail, video, podcast) to the process community can be a good option. Use this opportunity to inform everybody about the process purpose workshop and invite them to participate or – in case of a larger community – to apply for participation. It is important to point out that the workshop is just a first iteration and that the purpose will develop over time.

In a second step start to prepare the workshop with regards to the content. To guide everyone through the workshop the Process Purpose Canvas will be used. See activity-related document. The canvas consists of six areas to be filled by the workshop participants to finally define the process purpose. To ease the workshop procedure two areas should be prepared by you in advance. All other areas should be worked on with the team without further preparation to avoid bias.

  1. Organization’s strategy: Get the latest strategy slides and bring them to the workshop to discuss the organization’s strategy.
  2. Organization’s purpose: If defined bring all documents to the workshop to discuss the organization’s purpose. If there is no company purpose defined you can still discuss with the workshop team about their ideas of the organization‘s purpose.

Moderate purpose workshop

It is recommended to ask an independent moderator to lead the workshop to let you participate in the development process. But please keep in mind that you are still accountable for the results in your Process Owner role.

Target of this workshop is to develop a first version of a Process Purpose Statement by using the Process Purpose Canvas.

Based on the agenda template from the workshop preparation the following procedure can be applied:

1) Introduction of the workshop target and procedure

Welcome the workshop participants and introduce the target of the workshop as well as the agenda reflecting the procedure of the workshop. Provide an overview WHY you would like to define a Purpose Statement for your process.

Knowing why a process exists will help you to move the process to a higher level by:

  • Creating a sense of unity and a common understanding within the process community
  • Providing guidance for process design/execution and enabling a sustainable process implementation
  • Inspiring and motivating people to live their roles in the process

Use the attached slide “Why do we need to know the WHY?” to elaborate on this more specifically with regards to your process and use the image on the right side of the slide to differentiate between organization purpose process purpose and individual purpose of the involved people.

2) Introduction of participants

Even if the workshop participants know each other it is recommended to perform a round of introductions and let the people complete the following sentences on cards on the wall:

  • My most important value is…
  • My core competence is…
  • If known: My individual purpose is…

3) Review of the organization’s purpose

If existent introduce and discuss the organization’s purpose with the group. If the purpose of your organization is not defined discuss possible purpose statements of your organization with the group and write them on cards on the wall.

At the end of this agenda item write a purpose statement into the canvas.

4) Review of the organization’s strategy

Introduce and discuss the organization’s strategy with the group. If the strategy of your organization is not defined discuss possible strategies of your organization with the group and write them on cards on the wall.

At the end of this agenda item write a strategy statement into the canvas.

5) Brainstorming of stakeholder needs

Perform a brainstorming of the stakeholders of your process and write down their needs on cards on the wall. Think of the customers, suppliers, people working in and on the process, roles of adjacent processes, management, shareholder, society…

At the end of this agenda session write a summary of stakeholders and their needs into the canvas.

6) Brainstorming of values and behaviors

Perform a brainstorming of the values and behaviors of your process community and write them down on cards on the wall. Think of values rules principles… Here you can also use the values from the introduction of the workshop participants.

For a more structured development of values and behaviors use the archetypes as described in the book “Archetypes in branding” (amazon.de affiliate link). Let each participant pick up to three archetypes that fit to your process community and discuss their strength and challenges to identify values and behaviors of your process community.

At the end of this agenda session write a summary of your values and behaviors into the canvas.

7) Brainstorming of core competencies

Perform a brainstorming of the core competencies of your process community and write them down on cards on the wall. What are your super-powers? Here you can also use the core competencies from the introduction of the workshop participants.

At the end of this agenda session write a summary of your core competencies into the canvas.

8) Brainstorming of value proposition

Perform a brainstorming of the value proposition of your process community and write it down on cards on the wall. What do you want to give back to the world? Try to match this with the needs of your stakeholders based on you core competencies.

At the end of this agenda session write a value proposition statement into the canvas.

9) Deduction and formulation of process purpose statement

Finally review all areas of the Process Purpose Canvas and create a Process Purpose Statement out of the different elements. Try to be as short as possible but integrate aspects from all areas.

For a more structured development process you can use a Purpose Tournament approach. Therefore spit the group up into pairs of two participants and let these sub-groups develop their Process Purpose Statement. Afterwards every sub-group meets with another sub-group and both groups develop a common purpose statement out of both initial statements. Continue with this joining procedure until you have one common statement.

10) Wrap up and next steps

Wrap up the workshop by reviewing the results. Ask the participants to share their feelings about the Process Purpose Statement with the group.

Discuss the next steps to further develop and share the Purpose Statement. Remind all participants that the development process is a journey and that the statement will develop over time.

Define measures to communicate the results of the workshop and to ask the community for feedback regarding the Process Purpose Statement.

In general you will not need measures to implement the Process Purpose Statement. Use the purpose to guide you through the next phases of the New Process Life Cycle. This will automatically help to implement and fulfill the Process Purpose.

Close the workshop with a short feedback by every participant.

Participate in purpose workshop

Participate in the purpose workshop and bring in your ideas, know-how, competencies, values, and emotions.

Communicate workshop results

Communicate the results of the purpose workshop as well as the further procedure as agrees during the workshop.

To navigate back to the toolbox overview, click on the text on the top left corner.

If you like the toolbox and are interested to get more helpful tools, methods, and best practices, please subscribe to the New Process Update…

Please send me your feedback:

I would like to use this to show you how the New Process Toolbox could look like. Please send me your feedback what you think about the toolbox. Do you like the presentation? Does the content help you? Feel free to use this feedback form to send me your comments and ideas.