Life @ Work – Purpose-driven Planning

By Claudia Gross and originally published as a Life at Work email newsletter

When I decided to dedicate this newsletter to purpose-driven planning, I realized that every workshop and every meeting is driven by my purpose to energize and enable people, teams and organizations to evolve their lives, language and businesses for positive impacts and a thriving future for all. I even had a meeting with the Brazilian conscious marketing agency Purpous – Brands with Soul!

In the first newsletter of 2023, L@W #201, I encouraged you to look back and to look forward, inspired by Inner Development Goals (IDGs). This review or retrospective is one step I always recommend BEFORE starting the actual purpose-driven planning.

In last week’s newsletter L@W #202, I shared with you why I consider it crucial to prepare the ground and have dialogues and generative conversations (instead of downloading and debates) before sowing seeds and cultivating the future.

I inspired you to schedule time into your agendas for Presencing BEFORE purpose-driven planning.

Today I want to focus on why purpose matters when planning. Curious? – Let’s dive into it!

Impulse: Purpose-Driven Planning

P as Purpose is one of the elements in my eBook Life at Work for A to Z.

That’s how essential it is for the work I do regarding the HUMAN futures of work and working. Earlier I wrote about the shift from the single bottom line of profit, profit, profit to the quadruple bottom line of Purpose – People – Planet and Prosperity.

Yes, this is the order I give to the four.

When facilitating team retreats or planning workshops, I bring in the question of purpose to team members right from the start:

What is their personal purpose?

What is the purpose they see in their project? In their organization? Are their personal and the projects or organization’s purpose in harmony or going in different directions? This is a revealing exercise. Team members get to know themselves and each other better. On this basis, we can continue our collaboration.

One additional important aspect when thinking about purpose:

In former Life at Work // Weeklies, you have heard me refer to one important sentence in relation to hiring: “Hire for purpose, train for skills”.

You cannot train people to connect them to your purpose.

For example, when ecology and stewardship for the environment are far away from their reality, being hired by you will not change this (maybe over the months and years – how much time do you have?). 

Green HRM which I’ve shared with you in L@W 119 provides valuable support in this regard. What if the person you are about to hire has never volunteered in their whole life – will they understand your community-driven purpose, contributing to the better world we feel is possible?

You see, while in the past we hired for person-job fit, we are now looking for new colleagues who belong to us. I spoke about belonging in L@W 124 in regard to B as Belonging. My take on this sentence is “Hire for purpose, passion and culture, train for skills”. And what I’m really interested in are not skills, but superpowers. I spoke about this in one of my last webinars and in the L@W 141 on S As Self-Organization, Spiral Dynamics, SOAR, S Curves, and Superpowers

  • What’s your purpose?
  • What’s your team’s purpose?
  • What’s your organization’s purpose?

What can you do to strengthen your purpose and how do you bring it to life?


A great way to get an overview of your purpose is doing Anais Bock’s Purpose Test

  • What do you love?
  • What are you great at?
  • What does the world need?
  • What do you get paid for?

A wonderful approach to making one’s personal purpose visible is the Theory U Journaling exercise based on a series of questions for self-reflection. And an unexpected way of discovering your purpose is to reflect on everything that makes you angry. Yes, anger is one of the portals to finding our purpose. I didn’t expect that I would focus so much on women at work until I realized how angry I got about the current gaps and institutional injustices holding women back in a systematic, even legal way. High time for change!

I love working with purpose-driven organizations and their team members love being active colleagues in them too!

And the last one leads me to my final point in this email.

Throughout my week, I realized that the term ‘strategic planning’ doesn’t sit right with me.

First, it’s a military term which I believe doesn’t match the idea of living organizations.

Second, I believe the idea of BIG strategies pretends predictability that is unrealistic, dangerous and prevents you from remaining agile and dynamic.

Third, I believe that there are a couple of shifts going on from strategic to purpose-driven planning

Two years ago, I shared some of the shifts and principles I see at work today in one of my webinars on purpose-driven planning.

Here they are presented to you

Look at these shifts closely and take them as an inspiration to discover where you currently are regarding the way you plan and what you can shift next, in the mid-term and in the long-term future.


Republished with permission.

Featured Image added by Enlivening Edge Magazine. Image from original email newsletter