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The Truly Mission-driven Organization

Tyler Hartrich
May 22, 2016 · 5 min read

On embedding the DNA at every length of the organizing body

Being Mission-driven

At it’s most basic level, an organization is principally defined by it’s ability to drive the collective body towards a specific purpose. And so, the simple question of “why an organization exists in the world” is beholden to the vision it has set forth to achieve. Establishing a founding and enduring purpose sets the trajectory of the organization into existence. This is the point when the underlying DNA begins to take shape and the inception point by which the culture is born.

Mission-driven organizations tend to have a heightened calling to advance society forward—measuring success not by profit, but instead by impact. This declaration ensures that the people within the organization have a shared connection and accountability to its longview in the world. A Truly mission-driven organization upholds the values of its people among its greatest asset. This requires that the mission is systemically interconnected. It is a call for individuals to publicly declare their personal mission as it relates to the organization mission.

Teams — Rightsizing the mission at the team level

The size and scale of teams hold within them the potential to operate with greater effectiveness due to their relative size and agility. Teams simply move faster and have a vast depth in relative (specific) knowledge. To maximize on this potential, teams can be structured to operate similarly to the culture of a startup — providing a heightened level of decision-making, autonomy and agile (build/test/learn) processes.

Leading organizations that establish team-led mission statements hold the potential to garner a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment in their workers. When a mission is generated at this scale, there is far more resonance and ownership over the collective values among the team, providing a boost to morale and propulsion towards meeting short term business goals while simultaneous reaching long-term mission-based milestones.

How might teams be motivated if they held a self-proclaimed mission — separate but related to the collective organization?

Establishing a shared mission at the team level has greater power than at any other scale. A principle reason for this is based around the personal connection points that are made possible at the scale. When people directly engage with one another, there is a sense of belonging and accountability. If the team is deeply rooted to the mission, there will be a far greater sense of agency and togetherness, which is especially helpful when team morale is low. A common thread that ties people together can help pull people towards new forms of leaning and out of the box solutions.


The collective body thrives on a mutually supported sense of belonging. Establishing deep interconnections among teams and individuals will ultimately generate a deeply rooted mission-alignment across the organization. Harboring an ever-evolving culture of learning between people is best supported through flexibility, coordination and ongoing collaboration. People are innately connected to interpersonal behaviors. Such practices foster continuous growth of employees both personally and professionally, all the while becoming more aligned with their true nature.

Culture comes from every arm of the organization

The movement towards organizations that support deference among its people will radically transform the way we work. It requires that we show up as whole beings and emanate full expressiveness in the way we interact with our colleagues. At its core, organizations are made up of people, and are led best when they can be as fully human as possible—to provide more opportunities to come alive and to truly love their work. The culture must be mutually supported by all, be it the CEO, leadership teams, mangers, individual contributors, secretaries, the custodian crew, everyone.


The fully mission-driven organization must inherently be designed for its people. This requires an open, two-way exchange of the values both of the organization and the individual. The organization has it’s mission and each employee also has her mission. The sharing of these personal statements would be open and available to the entire company in a public drive where fellow colleagues could at any time reference these profiles to learn what makes people come alive in their work and how to join them in their mission. The collective statements would be open, transparent and give light to the full range of diversity supporting the higher organizational purpose.

Example Organization and Personal Mission

Patagonia’s Mission Statement (This is real).

“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

VP of Operations Mission Statement (Fictitious statement).

“To ignite full transparency through the value change by bringing awareness and accountability to the people and resources that help support our shared love for the natural environment.”

The missions of each person in the company wraps up underneath the organizational mission — is bidirectional, culturally supported, and transparent to the entire workforce.

A lifecycle of personnel

People are unquestionably the most valuable asset within an organization. Retaining top talent is among the top concerns of HR professionals. The time an employee will remain at a particular organizations comes down to several factors, among them are personal growth, career advancement, and impact. The last one being key. People want not only to have a stake in how an organization grows, but to be acknowledged for who they are and their position in advancing the organization forward.

When organizations invest in the full employee, they have a more innovative, balanced and driven hire. In this sense organizations must invest in the entirety of the person, encouraging them to bring there full (best) self to work each day.

Hiring for humanness

Imagine an organization as a family. In this light, people are viewed entirely differently in how they come into an organization through to the time when they depart and begin a new chapter elsewhere.


The interviewing process for example would look quite different than exists today. Candidates would be brought on to spend days working among the greater body, getting a truer sense for the chemistry with their prospective colleagues. The candidate might go through team building exercises to extract the full personal mission of how and why they find this work particularly meaningful. The principle question would gravitate around the personal mission of that person. What compels them to spend their working hours dedicated to the due north of the organization?


In today’s landscape, organizations see people for what they offer in direct relationship to their current role. When a team hires for the full person, they invest in the longview throughout the entirety of their career. The value of person is a longterm investment in human capital that only begins to mature between their walls and continues forward as each new chapter unfolds in their career.

The DNA is systemic

The greatest mission-driven organizations behold a resounding pulse from each individual. When the rhythm is in sync across the organization, the lifeblood can then be felt by everyone—making otherwise insurmountable challenges achievable. We are all creatures of immense desire to lead forward. When the collective whole ignites in synchronicity, anything and everything is rendered possible.

Go forth and achieve greatness.

Elevating the next generation of designers to lead through…

Tyler Hartrich

Written by



Tyler Hartrich

Written by

Working at the edge of school LX design, point + periphery systems design @ga + @forthwardnyc #FutureOfDesignEducation futureofschool + #microschool


Elevating the next generation of designers to lead through influence

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