IAF Methods

Corporate Purpose Workshop

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This can be used as part of a vision, mission and purpose series of workshops.
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To build a corporate purpose document and to experience the motivation of working for a larger purpose than just income or the company.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • Flipchart paper
  • markers
  • cards
  • sticky wall or blank wass
  • tape



Types of participants: Members of the organization or company or of the management team if the organization is large.

Ideal conditions: Relaxed setting away from the workplace.



During this session we will create a corporate purpose statement.

The purpose statement is a bit like a mission statement. A corporate purpose statement answers the question: ?WHY are we in existence? A mission statement answers the question: ?WHAT do we do to fulfill our purpose?


1. I will read a series of questions and as I read I would like you to write out answers.

extra-terrestrial comes to Earth. It points to everything it sees (like a bus station, an electric power plant, a school, a park, your company) and asks: What's that for? What will you tell him?

Your son or daughter asks you why you work for your company rather than another. What is your answer?

1000 years from now a history book of the 21st Century is uncovered. It has a section on your company's contribution to society. What does it say?

If you were going to spend the rest of your life working with your company, and the only thing you would be remembered for is what you do there, what would you want your company to be known for?

What would the world lose if your company quit operating tomorrow?

2. Now divide into pairs. Please discuss your answers with each other. List key words, images or concepts that came up more than once. As a pair select the 5 - 8 that came up most often or were most important. Put these on cards.

3. Cluster according to similar content, and name each cluster with a phrase that summarizes the insight in that cluster. 

4. Assign people to write sentences about each cluster which begin: The purpose of this organization is ...?

5. Have each sentence read.

6. When all of the sentences are read lead the following conversation:

Which cluster has the most cards? The least?

Did you hear anything that surprised you?

Which cluster would you throw away?

Which one would you defend with your life?

7. If you were to state your company's purpose in a single sentence what would it be? Please write down your sentence? I want only one sentence. Have everyone read his or her sentence.

a) What phrases seem to hold the essence of your company's purpose?
b) How would you restate the purpose? Write the phrases on the board.
c) What is left out?
d) Is there a more poetic way of saying this?

12. When there is a consensus put the sentence on a flip chart sheet in neat handwriting and put up on the wall.


When all of the sentences are done lead the reflection below:
1. What were some of the things we did this afternoon?
2. What surprised you about this process?
3. What facilitation skill were used?
4. What was important about this exercise?
5. Where could this be used?


Follow-Up Required: This could lead into a strategic planning workshop

Usual or Expected Outcomes: A set of statements that describe the larger social purpose of the organization

Potential pitfalls: cynicism

How success is evaluated: The purpose statements are produced and there is excitement about them.


Source: The Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA).  Originally published in Winning through Participation, by Laura Spencer (now out of print).  Now found in Transformational Strategy, by Bill Staples.  

Derived from: This is a form of the Basic Workshop Method of the Institute of Cultural Affairs.

History of Development: Winning through Participation, by Laura Spencer (now out of print) contains an early version of this method.

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  • Book: Laura Spencer, Winning through participation, Group Facilitation methods of ICA

    over 3 years ago