Data would indicate that our global interest in purpose is growing. In truth, searching on Google for purpose is probably not the best place to start, and I write a lot about how to use data to frame an argument as this viewpoint highlights that the gap between purpose and how is filled with paradox.
Source: Google Trends
The Peak Paradox framework can be viewed from many different perspectives. In this 3-minute read, I want to focus on the gap between “Purpose” And “How.” For example, Robin Hood's (as in the legendary heroic outlaw originally depicted in English folklore and subsequently featured in literature and film - not the stock trading company) purpose was “The redistribution of wealth.” He and his band of merry fellows implemented the purpose by any means, mainly robbing the rich and giving to the poor (how they did it). The Purpose was not wrong, but How was an interesting take on roles in society. Google’s Purpose is to “Organise the world's information.” How it does this is through the collection and ownership of data. The Purpose is not wrong, but How is an interesting take on data ownership. Facebook's Purpose is “To connect every person in the world.” It does this by using your data to manipulate you and your network. The Purpose is not wrong, but How Facebook does it is an interesting take on control and the distribution of value?
Reviewing the world's top businesses' mission/ purpose statement, we will conclude that “in general, “purpose is good.” When we question “How” the purpose is implemented, we shine a light on the incentives, motivations and methods.
“How” provides insights into the means; however, we should not be too quick to judge how. Consider The Suffragette mission, Climate Change movements or Anti-Apartheid. Sometimes “how” is left with fewer choices or options?
Apple’s Purpose is “To bring the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals, and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software, and internet offerings.” How Apple does this is to make you dependent on them, their products, and their services. Apple now positions their devices (iwatch), meaning you might not make it out alive without one. The “How” is to exploit via lock-in users without them realising (they are not alone.)
We should question what Principles “How” aligns to
In political systems, we see structural tensions. Different sides of political systems don’t demand worse security, degrading healthcare, more poverty or less education. Fundamentally everyone's similar purpose is a better society for all, and that is broadly accepted, however #how individuals believe a policy can be delivered creates tension, fractions and division. Along with the allocation and priority of resources created by scarcity. #decisions
The Peak Paradox framework positions different ideological purposes to expose the conflicts that we all face as we cannot optimise for one thing at the exclusion of others, but we have to find our place where we feel at peace, and even better if we can find a team who also find rest within the same compromises. That does not mean we have to agree or not be challenged, as the world will throw enough of those.
As you move towards making decisions, the decisions become about details to realise your balanced purpose. The HOW implementation decisions need to align with principles, and this is where we see the gaps. The gap is not in the purpose but in the misalignment of the implementation to principles that we believe in if we were asked to deliver the purpose.
If we were asked to deliver the purpose, a gap appears at the misalignment of the implementation to principles between what we believe in and what others align to.