“the direction in which a compass needle normally points, towards the horizon on the left-hand side of a person facing east, or the part of the horizon lying in this direction”
Now you have those careful clear words from the Oxford dictionary, can you point North from where you are reading this?
I doubt you can. The definition won’t have helped much anyway, no matter how well it is written all it can do is paint a picture in your head. You still have to match that up against reality. Writing something clearly does not mean it is real or useful.
I’ve said it once already, but it bears repeating.
Carefully enunciated and simply worded sentences are not the same as clarity of purpose.
There is a difference. Anybody who works in an organisation will have come across a document with things written in it telling you what you are supposed to do. Job descriptions, plans, strategies, policies etc. This is how command and control organisations work at disseminating direction and accumulating feedback. They don’t really have a choice, it’s either write it down and distribute it, or they’d have to shout it from a big megaphone. I am glad they chose paper.
They don’t have to try to control reality through paper, but if they didn’t they’d have to choose to be something other than command and control, and that is a genuinely difficult thing to do. Hence all the Paper Purposes in the world.
There’s no shame in paper. Real purpose isn’t carved in granite. It’s an Aunt Sally, something set up to be knocked down. That’s it’s strength. Test purpose against reality, find out where it doesn’t quite fit, knock it down and alter it and set it up again for more testing.
So, what’s the difference between a Paper Purpose and a real one then?
Paper Purpose comes from inside the organisation.
Real purpose come from outside.
Paper Purpose is artfully crafted from nothing.
Real purpose is forensically excavated from the muddy earth of the work.
Paper Purpose is tested in the workplace against opinion and becomes consensus.
Real purpose is tested in the work against reality and becomes knowledge.
Paper Purpose is honed and smoothed until acceptable and pleasing.
Real purpose is used because it is useful.
Paper Purpose is permanent until another more fitting one is written and agreed.
Real purpose is temporary until a more useful and accurate one is discovered.
Paper Purpose is always written down but not necessarily remembered.
Real purpose is always understood, so there’s not much need to write it down.
Paper Purpose can be made into an aeroplane.
Real purpose directs thinking to help solve people’s problems.