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Weaving Purpose Through Your Organization

August 31, 2018 | Strategy
Strategy Weaving

What I learned about purpose at summer camp (ok, it was really just a community education class)

A few months ago, my adult daughter dragged me to a community education class on weaving. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but it was one of those rare opportunities to spend some quality time with my daughter and learn something new… so I jumped at the chance.

As the class started, the instructor gave us an overview of the project — we were going to use an old picture frame and random colors of yarn to create a beautiful wall hanging. Doubtful I would be able to create something “beautiful” in the short three-hour class period (between us, I honestly doubted if I could create anything beautiful in three months), I was enjoying the quality time with my daughter and I dove in with the rest of the women in the class and gave it a go.

Once we all had our supplies, we returned to our seats and our instructor started to explain some of the basics of weaving. She first explained the difference between the warp and the weft.

I won’t bore you with her lengthy and confusing explanation as I think the Wikipedia definition is sufficient:

 

image showing warp and weft

Warp and weft are terms for the two basic components used in weaving to turn thread or yarn into fabric. The lengthwise or longitudinal warp yarns are held stationary in tension on a frame or loom while the transverse weft is drawn through and inserted over-and-under the warp to create the pattern.

As I sat there carefully choosing the different color yarns to weave through the warp, it occurred to me that there was a deep connection between weaving and purpose alignment. I realized that the warp strings are representative of the organization’s purpose. They are the framework on which you build your organization. They are straight, tight and carefully aligned – and they provide structure to everything your organization does.

Defining your purpose is one of the most important things an organization can do. It is the framework through which you will weave everything else you do. Once your purpose is in place, it can guide and support developing your culture, products, services, programs and procedures.

As I learned the hard way, it is extremely important to never let the weft (programs, services) pull your warp (purpose) out of alignment. EVERY decision and action must be woven against the threads of purpose without distorting them.

When you create new services, programs or initiatives, you must carefully consider how it fits in the purpose and the overall tapestry you are weaving. If you decide to launch programs or initiatives outside of your purpose, you will end up with many strings that are only loosely connected to the organization and marring the image you have worked so hard to create. It is only when you demand that everything the organization does be woven through your purpose that you can truly create a strong, beautiful, integrated organizational tapestry – not just a pile of random strings tangled together.

As the weaver of your organization’s image, you can play a critical role in ensuring everything you do is carefully woven through purpose. There will be things that pop up and cause your warp to lose its shape, but keeping the purpose at the forefront of your thinking will help you get back on the straight and narrow.

As for my finished product from the community class… I ended with a small coaster that is a little misshaped due to my pulling the warp out of shape that I’m keeping nearby as a reminder to lead with purpose.

Written by Jennifer Horton

Jennifer is a strategic problem-solver with 20 years of experience strategizing in for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare systems. She simplifies complex healthcare problems, breaking them down into manageable goals to achieve our clients’ large-scale dreams, all while expertly navigating corporate structures and keeping all players engaged along the way.

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