From a practical point of view, organizations can realize the benefits that emerge when their people are both autonomous and aligned in what we call the ‘agile purpose chart’. It shows the various outcomes that occur when we integrate missions into operational reliability and adaptability.Footnote 38 Reliability refers to undertakings such as obtaining expected results, adjusting standards, meeting budgets, managing risk, following strategy, and so on, while adaptability refers to the autonomy of our work, the capacity for innovation, the ability to adapt to customer needs, or the improvement of processes, to name a few. When team and individual missions are combined with reliability and adaptability, we set the stage for a different kind of organizational structure. One that simultaneously develops and integrates into a holistic model. This model includes the concurrent combination of four hierarchical and self-managed organizational forms: governance hierarchy, management hierarchy, self-managed teams and self-managed networks (see Fig. 6.2).
Today, most companies continue to define themselves primarily by hierarchical designs. However, in reality, usually all four are present in purpose-driven companies. These four designs are indeed natural developments of purpose-driven organizations. The military is a good example of this. Despite their hierarchical structures, their collective high sense of purpose forms itself into a well-orchestrated network of self-managed teams.Footnote 39 Or in the case of Wikipedia: although it is a self-managed network of individuals, it requires some form of hierarchy for ‘legitimate authority’ to govern the purpose of the organization.Footnote 40 In our experience, the model we present here helps to outline the actual potential residing in purpose-driven organizations. In short, it provides a framework in which each company can find its natural place, combining the hierarchical and non-hierarchical forms to best suit its purpose and institutional requirements. Every company needs to find its particular equilibrium in the use of the four designs mentioned above, and avoid the least productive scenarios residing on the fringes.
Through the framework, we have seen companies dramatically increase their ability to adapt to change, making profound transformations while, at the same time, reinforcing their commitment to the outlined purpose. For Jimenez Maña, the automobile spare parts company in Andalusia, this was indeed the case. The company initiated a significant transformation to its business by re-focusing efforts and activities around its true comparative advantage. It did so without the elimination of hierarchies. Instead, they combined hierarchical and self-managed structures, and facilitated their coordination and consistency through the use missions, which served as their source of overall alignment. To this end, the company employed self-managed teams and networks as a primary way of organizing their operations. Questions such as the definition of the strategy, the coordination of missions, or the establishment of compensation are addressed through the governance and management hierarchy.Footnote 41
In our experience, the agile purpose chart increases an organization’s ability to sense and react to change without losing its alignment to purpose. Such a model provides a legitimate source of authority to individuals and teams, empowering them not by the chain of command but primarily by purpose. It offers enormous potential for the development of organizations, helping to solidify purpose while enhancing motivation, adaptability, and agility. It is an answer to the question that organizational theorists struggle with when confronting a world of relentless change, ferocious competition, and unstoppable innovation: ‘How do we build organizations that deserve the extraordinary gifts that our employees bring to work?’Footnote 42 The agile purpose chart helps people find their ‘right place’ in organizations by allowing them to express their personal purpose at work. This means giving individuals what is called ‘freedom within a framework’, allowing them the space to breathe, grow, and evolve within the company’s changing needs.Footnote 43
The agile purpose chart, in the broadest sense, provides a much deeper view of the organization as well as the person. Here each employee feels and acts as the true protagonist of their work, and managers know how to handle, with skill, the delicate balance that exists between their role as leaders and their duty as bosses. Missions ultimately help incorporate the new logic of purpose that views employees from a transcendent perspective, capable of acting for reasons other than the mere satisfaction of their own needs. This now becomes the new point of departure, that is, when we see the organization through the lens of purpose we ultimately see the person through this same lens. Their reason for being shines because they are part of a high-purpose environment where they can more easily respond to their calling and give of themselves, freely and meaningfully in concert with others, toward a common end.