Meaning at work

How do you bring people together around a shared purpose and put more meaning into work through the way your organisation is structured ? While there is not a definitive answer to this, here are some ideas to build a good coherent and meaningful backbone for your organisation.

We suggest that you pay attention to three things : Why, How, What*.

Have a compass

The most important question first : do you know why your organisation does what it does ? Don’t underestimate the power of the answer to this question. Indeed, just knowing “what” you do (the service or product you provide) might not be enough. Finding a clear definition of why your company exists will allow you to put meaning back. You might want to gather the input of everyone interested to clarify what is that cause or belief that is driving your company.

Lego’s (toy maker) purpose illustrates this well : « to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow ».

Once you have your “why” in a tight and meaningful sentence that can easily be shared and remembered, find the “how”.

What makes you special

“How” is all about the way you do things and the values living in your organisation. Ask yourself and your team members what is it you do differently from your competition. Keep it short and sharp.

With a clear compass (why) and identity (how) you should already have a meaningful message that can inspire all your team members.

Here is the example of the belgian Préhistomuseum combining the why and how : “The Prehistomuseum exists to allow everyone to live the experience of our humanity {why} through an original and offbeat encounter with Prehistory and Archaeology {how}”.

But don’t forget the “what” layer…

Your valuestreams

“What” is the concrete service or product you offer and thus shouldn’t be hard to find and define. If you want to bring more meaning into day to day activities, consider reviewing how your teams are organized to deliver your product or service. Are your key activities organized in such a way that teams have a sense of meaning ? Are they able to see the impact their work has ?

If not, you might want to organise cross-functional teams responsible for a valuestream from end to end, instead of dividing them into silos.

These three dimensions could be the very foundation of a more meaningful and coherent organisation. If you want to know more about how this can be achieved or to get help along the way and benefit from our structured approach to put meaning back into your organisation, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


*As framed by Simon Sinek, in his book “Start with Why”.