Discover your organization’s purpose in half a day

Wendy van der Klein helps organizations discover and realize purpose. Purpose-led companies put purpose before profit. They have lower staff turnover and increased productivity. People working for these organizations are more engaged, creative and happy.

“Have you ever been in those dreadful meetings with endless discussions about the vision and mission statement of your organization? Where you try to find consensus and end up with complicated and dull sentences?”

The good news is that organizational purpose can be discovered in half a day. Through Integrative Decision Making you have a written down purpose at the end of the workshop. This is a 3 step approach that you can apply in your organization or team:

  1. Invite meaningful data in the room.
  2. Sense the meaning of the words.
  3. Apply Integrative Decision Making

Step 1: Invite data in the room

Most often, you rationally think about the mission and vision of the organization. The approach proposed here is radically different from what you are used to:

“Listen to the organization as a living system with a sense of direction of its own”.

Instead of thinking about the organization we listen to what the organization wants to be. There are two proven methods for inviting data about organizational purpose:

Creative source mapping is a powerful method to go back to the creative source of the organization. The inquiry is “What brought this organization into being and how has its purpose evolved over time?” In other words what was the founding vision? By looking deeper into the roots of the company these questions are addressed: “What was the original need, vision or purpose of the founder?” , “Why was the organization started and what did the founder want to achieve?”.

The empty chair is a practice where someone from the organization is invited to embody the organization as a whole. From the moment the person sits down on a chair that person represents the organization. By asking leading questions such as “What is the contribution the organization wants to make?” or “Why does the world need this organization?”, the person on the chair answers as if the organization has its own voice. Because the information that is shared comes from a place beyond ego it is often deep and inspirational and has a high level of clarity. For example, one representative in a workshop talked about the loss of human energy and materials in the construction industry because people fail to collaborate in a positive way. This gave the organization a key insight for their purpose centered around tranforming the construction sector through improved collaboration.

Step 2: Sense the meaning of the words

When all data from the creative source mapping and empty chair methods are gathered and put on the wall, the people in the room are invited to sense which words or phrases are part of the purpose.  Because this task is done by a group of people you make use of the collective intelligence of the individuals. In this way, a pattern of purpose words will appear. It helps to group them on the wall in three columns:

  1. Why we do it
  2. What we do
  3. How we do it

“What we do” is the core of the purpose. By asking “Why do we do it?” you enlarge the purpose answering to what end and by asking “How do we do it” you contract the purpose answering by what means. Repetitively asking “Why” will bring you closer to the essence of your organization’s purpose.

Writing draft purpose statements

Frederic Laloux states in his book Reinventing Organizations that purpose refers to:

On the basis of our current context and the resources, talents, and capacities at our disposal, the products or services we offer, the history of the company and its market space:

1.      WHAT is the deepest potential the organization can help create in the world?

2.     WHY does the world need it?

The next step is that each individual in the room gets six colored sticky dots. Everyone is asked to place 2 dots per column behind the words that resonate most with the person. Note that this is again a sensing exercise instead of an exercise where you have tothink about the right answer. The result of this exercise is that certain words show up to have more dots than others.  Exactly these words per column form the proposal to bring to the Integrative Decision Making process.

Step 3: Apply Integrative Decision Making

This final step truly sets this approach apart from more traditional ways of writing mission and vision statements. This process will ensure a clear and tangible output of the workshop. You will not look for consensus and no hierarchical decision will be made. Instead a middle way is used called Integrative Decision Making. This method is used in Holacracy to resolve proposals in governance meetings. In this case the purpose statement is the proposal. One member of the organization is asked to become the proposer of the purpose statement. Through very concrete steps the proposal can be clarified and amended. The purpose is accepted when there are no objections left.

The newly discovered purpose is not static and can be adapted at any given moment. Instead of repeating a purpose workshop, people in the organization can just bring up their tension around the purpose at any given moment. The Integrative Decision Making process will help resolve the tension by integrating what needs to be changed. In such a way the purpose evolves over time. This is “sense and respond” in action and by that you have entered a new organizational paradigm.

Interested to organize a Purpose workshop in your organization? Looking for a facilitator? See what I can do for your organization on my website or mail me at Looking forward to connect!

Three steps to get started with Teal

Wendy van der Klein helps organizations discover and realize purpose. Purpose-led companies put purpose before profit. They have lower staff turnover and increased productivity. People working for these organizations are more engaged, creative and happy.

Most questions raised during our latest webinar “Are you ready to make the leap to the next stage of management”? centered around the question: “How to get started with Teal”?

Worldwide people are inspired by the book Reinventing Organizations written by Frederic Laloux. However, translating Teal into day-to-day practices at work can be a challenge and a bit overwhelming.

Transforming an existing organization

Laloux points out two necessary conditions that need to be present to avoid wasting your time and effort on a Teal initiative:

  1. Does the CEO “get it?”
  2. Do the members of the Board “get it” and support it?

When both the CEO and the board look at the world through Teal lenses and are personally excited about it, just get started. It is as simple as that. The Teal initiative you start with does not have to be the perfect solution. Look at it as a next, workable step. You don’t have to know the full path ahead.

“If your CEO and Board don’t get it, you can still explore and implement Teal practices, be it on a team or department level. Take into account the existing framework of rules and processes within your organization, and strive for a healthy way of working in the area where you’re responsible”.

Step 1: Discover where your organization is today

Observe, observe, observe current ways of working and exchange views with colleagues mapping the beliefs, behaviors, culture and systems at play. The Teal Reflection Tool inspired by Ken Wilber can be used to look at the current reality of your organization from four different perspectives. By considering all quadrants of the model, you acquire integral knowledge about the current reality of how your organization functions.


Teal Reflection Tool


When you have a map of current practices, these observations can be linked to the developmental stages of organizations described by Frederic Laloux. Reflect on each practice and become aware from which predominant frame of reference your organization operates. Is it Amber, Orange or Green? Followed by the question: “What would this practice look like from a Teal perspective”?  For example, training from an Orange perspective often refers to fixed trajectories designed by HR with a focus on development of skills. Training from a Teal lense could be that people have personal freedom and responsibility for developing their own training program.  The book Reinventing Organizations has a list of Teal structures, practices and processes in appendix 4.

 Step2: Sense the next step

Gather your team and invite people to become (more) present in the meeting room by doing a check-in or a short meditation. Start a conversation about current perceived issues in the organization per quadrant of the Teal Reflection Tool. A very practical and direct way to dive in is to invite people to look at tensions as fuel. Where we normally try to avoid tension because it doesn’t feel good we now use tension as a source of energy to detect the next step.

To give everyone a space to express him/her self and avoid endless discussions it is helpful to pinpoint a facilitator to lead the conversation. When a list of real tensions has come up the team can sense which tension it wants to start addressing. Try to address one tension at the time. What practice/next step could work? What would such a next step look like from a Teal perspective?  Keep in mind it does not have to be the perfect solution. As long as it is workable.

Joris Engbers on working Holacracy based @ Spindle:

“We have the enormous benefit that every great idea from anyone in the organization can be acted upon immediately. We will have tried ten new things and succeeded only once, before any traditional organization has had the third meeting about the first idea”.

 Step 3: Start your first Teal experiment!

Simply, just start a first experiment with the practice the team has come up with. For example, a tension has been brought up: “New employees are hired by HR and often there is no real fit with the existing team”.

A Teal practice could be that instead of HR, colleagues become responsible for doing interviews and hiring the right person to join the team. What you start is a learning experiment. The team starts a period of selecting people they want to work with and by doing so data will come up that gives the organization valuable feedback. Is the team more or less satisfied with people they have hired independently? Is it easier or harder for new people to join the team because of the new practice? What happened to the original tension? Is there still an issue? Have new tensions arisen? Like: “It costs way too much time to interview applicants next to our day-to-day job”.

At the end of a pilot period working with the new practice, gather your team to evaluate the benefits and concerns of the practice. Answer questions like: “Shall we continue the practice or stop with it or does something needs to be adapted?” Use this opportunity to also sense the next step and continue with it. Welcome to the world of evolutionary Teal where change is a constant.

I look forward to connect! Contact the author Wendy van der Klein at

Hungry for more?

  • Join our free webinar “How to get started with Teal” on the 26th of May. Explore the dos, don’ts, pitfalls, and challenges when implementing Teal practices in your team or organization. With 2 special guests who will share their personal experiences: Allard Droste ( & Matthias Hallmann (
  • Or join the Teal Summer Journey at Nyenrode Business University this summer.
  • Dig for more information on the Reinventing Organizations Wiki