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Team Foundations 2—Develop a Purpose statement

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

Time needed: 120 minutes


Purpose can be a motivating force that catalyzes well-being, innovation, and team performance. The keyword is can. Have you ever seen a purpose or vision statements that spoke to your heart? If you have, bring it to this meeting.

This activity is an opportunity for your team to define what and who you stand for. While your team likely has a specific job it performs in service of internal or external needs...

Meeting Goal:

Develop a purpose statement that inspires every member on your team.


  • Check-In: Stories of purpose (8 min)

  • Team Reflection (15 minutes)

  • Imagination: Your bigger team vision (20 minutes)

  • Application: How can we integrate practices into our day to day operations? (30 minutes)

  • Reflection: What are we taking away from this activity?

  • Closing


  • Magazines or materials for collage (glue, poster board, scissors, etc)

    • Alternatively, you can purchase a team visioning Mosaic and activity for a different approach with a beautiful artistic outcome

    • Virtual teams can use a shared board like Miro to create their collage using online images


Part 1: People within our team

Pair share: Story of purpose (10 minutes)

After sharing the agenda and overall meeting goal, instruct team members to take 3 minutes each to share in pairs:

  • With a group or team, tell of a time you felt motivated with purpose. How did that team or group impact your life?

Take a few minutes to invite share-outs:

  • What did you learn about your partner? What stood out to you?

Pair share: Story of your job (10 minutes)

Everyone arrived to their team through different pathways, each with their own challenges, opportunities and continued questions. In new pairs, take 3 minutes each to share the story of your job.

  • What's been your career journey? What played into your decision to work here? Have your expectations been met so far? What questions are you holding about where you belong?

Take a few minutes to invite share-outs:

  • What was it like sharing your story? Anything that surprised you or became clearer?

Group discussion: Why we're here (15 minutes)

Driven by cultural norms and expectations, most organization have an underlying "why," different than their purpose, that everyone feels compelled to align with at the expense of their personal values and needs. In non-profit organizations it's a common dynamic that team members feel pressured to sacrifice personal needs for the benefit of the bigger vision. They're expected to care about the vision more often than their personal needs. Purpose becomes a part of people's identities and alternative reasons for being there are devalued.

There are numerous reasons why we each show up to work every day. Some of those reasons are:

  • To provide for family

  • To have long weekends and spend time with loved ones

  • To be able to work remotely and care for my kids

  • To have security and benefits

  • To be able to travel

  • To grow in ones career

  • For a sense of community and connection

  • To start a business someday

  • To support a personal hobby

  • To be inspired by like-minded people

Before discussion, give everyone two minutes to write down their personal reasons to the question: "why are you here?" Let them know they won't be expected to share these. After two minutes invite folks to share with each other. Tell them not to tell you (if you are the facilitator) but to talk to each other. Invite them to get curious about each other, ask questions, and share openly. Let this conversation go where it wants to. It's ok to get off topic. Ask questions and invite your team to connect the threads between what's being shared.

Creative Visioning: Possibility and Impact (15 minutes)

Part 1 Debrief (10 minutes)

Break (10 min)

Part 2: Develop a purpose statement

Organizational purpose (15 minutes)

  • Job as team, stakeholders, impact

Personal purpose (15 minutes)

  • Gifts, values, job, impacts

Share feedback (3 minutes)

  • How did we do? What could have gone better?

Close with appreciation (2 minutes)

  • Make sure everyone receives at least one appreciation or acknowledgement before the meeting ends.

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