Espoused Purpose Versus Enacted Purpose

- Management 3.0

by Jurgen Appelo

Note: At the time this article was written the company that owns Management 3.0 was called Happy Melly One. It has since evolved to the Happy Melly Group

A few years ago we launched an experiment, the Happy Melly community. The business network was founded because we want to make the world of work a happier place and so naturally, this goal ended up in Happy Melly’s Constitution. The experts call this an espoused purpose. It is a purpose that is defined and communicated, but the proof of the pudding is in our actual behavior. Are we doing what we said we would?

For Management 3.0, it’s different. As its creator, I never actually defined a clear purpose. I just did whatever made sense to me, without a vision or mission statement. But that doesn’t mean that there is no purpose. On the contrary, we can derive a purpose from actual behaviors and the things that I am most proud of.
Let’s see…

I’m sure you’ve seen me brag about being a top Agile influencer, a leading management expert, a popular Agile writer, and a best seller on Amazon. In my book #Workout, I call this a Work Expo: an exhibition of the stuff that you’re most proud of. A work exposition reveals what people find most meaningful in their work. For me, apparently, I show off my achievements as a writer and as a speaker.

For example, yesterday I spoke at a nice internal company event of Deutsche Telekom in Bonn, Germany. For me, the highlight of the day was not that people said I did a good job. That was only the 2nd best thing I was pleased to hear. The number 1 takeaway for me was that people said they were already successfully using delegation boards. I was happy to notice one of my ideas was useful!

Does that mean that my purpose is topping the charts and getting compliments from everyone? Of course not. It appears that I care about my ideas influencing people. And the ideas are all about agile management, organizational change, and better workplaces. The more proof I have of ideas being appreciated and copied, the happier I am.

So, there we have (a first draft of) the purpose of Happy Melly One (the body that owns Management 3.0): influencing people with good ideas for better work-lives. I offered it today to my new team, and they agreed this goal can work for them as well. The experts call this an enacted purpose: it’s what we actually do.

What is it that you’re proud of doing?

image: (c) 2009 Seth Sawyers

Learn more about purpose driven business within the Management 3.0 Module Meaning & Purpose.


2 thoughts on "Espoused Purpose Versus Enacted Purpose"

  • Johan Lybaert says:

    Jurgen nice blog post. I agree that the goal is creating happiness in our work envieonment in order to get happy customers i am proud that we are doung pretty well with our Cegeka software factory. We are building high suality software each time again so this thanks to passionated workers doung the right thing rught. Each of our customers is giving us testimonials about the pleasure it is to work with the Cegeka team that is helping them achieving the highest business value for the money they can spent. The nice thing about high quality software is the minimal cost to maintain it, the stabiluty, good performance and the ease to enhance it with new fearures that get smoothly deployed. Yes this makes me proud and with me all those passionated workers doing a great job every day again.

  • Vidya Munde-Mueller says:

    Jurgen, I was at the Deutsche Telekom Event in Bonn and quite inspired by all the great methods and tools you introduced to us during the day. By the way, I drew the delegation board on the white board of my boss’s office and he looks at it quite often and tells people:-) Thanks!

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