Common Purpose

Common Purpose
September 6, 2023

In week six of this series, let’s explore number 5 of the 7 C’s—“common purpose.”

This group value in the social change model involves working with shared aims and values for the greater good of society as a whole. It helps a group take a deep look at the issues at hand and the actions they should take to resolve those issues, creating a sense of direction for their work. Recognizing the common purpose and mission of the group helps create the level of trust needed for successful collaboration. In our music metaphor, the common purpose is the song.

How do you develop a common purpose? Though sometimes a common purpose is developed by one person creating a vision and convincing others to join them, a better option is to have group members work together to create a common vision. To make sure the entire group is engaged and invested in the project, the purpose should always be open to change based on group discussion.

If you are starting with an individual’s idea, they must be willing to bend a bit from their original thoughts. The individual value of commitment plays a role here—the other group members have to be committed to the idea, which often requires adapting it to make sure it fits everyone’s values.

If you are developing a common purpose from scratch as a group, make sure everyone shares their values related to the issue at hand and see where there is overlap. Then think big when brainstorming possible solutions.

(Note: don’t focus on the HOW at this point, just on WHAT you would like to accomplish.)

Some questions to consider:

  • What do we want to do?
  • Who do we want to help?
  • What impact do we want to have?

Tip of the Week

Think about your group’s common purpose – do you think everyone is on the same page? If you’re part of an organization that has a mission statement, review it and make sure it is still relevant to current needs and values.