Our methodology: Stage 1 | Define Purpose

Our five-stage innovation methodology is an outcome-based approach to develop new value propositions and business models for tomorrow’s customer. But how does our methodology work in practice? This blog post is the first in a series of five in which we explore each stage of our Stay Future Proof methodology to become a Future Proof organization. 


Define Purpose

Our five-stage innovation methodology begins with establishing a vision for your organization in Stage 1. This important stage is all about collaboratively forming a clear and shared vision that is carried by everyone in the organization. Using Design Thinking and organizational theory practices, you will ensure that during the Define Purpose Stage everyone in your organization is working toward the same goal. In addition, you identify how you provide real value to customers and to people, planet, and prosperity to realize sustainable business growth.


At the end of this stage, you will have

 A shared organizational vision
 A common organizational worldview
 A deep and clear understanding of your customers and how your organization adds value – or could add value in the future – for these customers
 A defined transformation scope for Becoming Future Proof

stayfutureproof approach

Importance of a shared organizational vision

Like most organizations you probably already have vision and mission statements written in annual reports and on your website. So why is it important to establish a shared organizational vision in the Define Purpose Stage? The vision statements of many organizations are often nothing more than that: statements captured in documents. They are written words that are not shared and embraced by every employee. They are often drafted at the start of an organization or formulated from the inside out. Often these statements are not focused on today’s and tomorrow’s customers. Most organizations’ vision documents are vague, rigid, and do not encourage employees to work toward a desired future.


A compelling vision, on the other hand, articulates the direction of the organization and sparks innovation to achieve that desired future. It sets the course for long-term value creation and creates a culture of shared ownership within the organization. The world, and with it the context of organizations, is changing so rapidly that a successful organizational vision must also be flexible enough to adapt to changing realities. This while remaining concrete enough to encourage a shared direction throughout the organization.

“It’s not the largest companies that will survive but the most adaptable ones.”

– Joe Kaeser on announcing Siemens’ agile corporate strategy, Vision 2020+ based on Charles Darwin.


At Stay Future Proof, we’ve seen firsthand how developing such a shared purpose can spark creativity and resilience within an organization. This allows an organization to pivot when market changes would otherwise cause a business to fail. We have also seen the stimulating effect that shared ambitions can have on the motivation and collaboration of employees. Therefore, we focus on developing a strong, shared, and adaptable organizational vision during the first stage of our innovation methodology.

Innovation as a Mindset

At the beginning of the Define Purpose Stage, you lay the foundation for an inspiring vision by taking a deep dive into your organization’s operational environment. You work with Stay Future Proof’s Strategy Designers to analyze your organization’s current external environment and examine where your organization is adding value – or not yet adding value. You explore:


  • Shared worldview: Using our Context Map and Value Proposition Canvas, you map out the broad business ecosystem within which your organization operates. These canvas tools help you to transform your view, from a short-sighted view of your current organization to an expanded view of the world and the place of your organization in tomorrow’s markets.
  • Preferred futures: What do you want customers to say about your organization ten years from now? How will your organization ideally add value in twenty years? How do you want distribution channels to change?

From the insights you gain through this deep dive, you begin to form customer-centric ambitions for your organization and develop a common purpose to achieve those ambitions. Working with our canvas tools is also essential for developing employee engagement – an essential part of a strong shared vision that we will further develop in the next phase of the Define Purpose Stage.


Shaping shared ownership for your organizational vision

An organizational vision makes the most impact when it is shared by all or a large portion of employees – it becomes a unifying force that drives innovation and collaboration. This seems very easy but getting everyone on board is an elusive goal for many organizations. Often, a small group of people set and write a vision, hoping that the rest of the organization will adopt it. This is an illusion, as more than once these hopes and expectations are disappointed.


To ensure that your vision is shared by employees within your organization, it is necessary to bring together key internal stakeholders. Together, they work to shape the organization’s vision and future ambitions. Either a representative group of employees, or – in some cases – all employees can be consulted as part of this feedback process. This collaboration not only shapes a strong shared vision, but also fosters a culture of shared ownership and creativity.


During the second part of this stage, Stay Future Proof works with you to define and share the organizational vision with employees. Our Strategy Designers facilitate joint workshops in which the organizational vision, mission and ambitions are synthesized, summarized, and articulated for the entire organization. This includes visual storytelling, further iterations of our canvas tools and vision launch events with teams. At the end of the process, there is a shared direction for the organization to unleash change and creative action in your organization.


Defining the scope of transformation

After obtaining a shared organizational vision, you define the ambitions of your innovation project in the final phase of the Define Purpose Stage. At Stay Future Proof, we believe in starting small, advancing insight, and letting the results speak for themselves to drive further transformation within an organization. Therefore, at the end of this stage, you focus on a particular area that you want to make Future Proof and change in the following stages. This could be a product line, a particular service, or a business area. With the input of our Strategy Designers, you identify a promising area and create a backlog of additional areas for transformation for the future. By working modularly in this way, you can experiment and test transformations in addition to running your core business.


You now have an inspiring, supported, and shared vision to unleash innovative transformation in your organization – what’s next? Read about unraveling customer insights and developing clear understanding of future customer needs in the Explore Stage; Stage 2 of the Stay Future Proof five-stage innovation methodology. Do you have any questions about the Define Purpose Stage? Let us know. Click here to find out how we can help your organization to get a clear view of its position in the market and what tomorrow’s success looks like. Not for, but especially with and by you and your colleagues.

about the author
Eefje Jonker
Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve gained some valuable insights from the article! I’m Eefje Jonker, CEO & Strategy Designer at Stay Future Proof. Want to learn all about strategy, innovation and transformation? Reach out and let’s talk!
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