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Group Practices: Shared Intention
Clarity of a shared goal

In some of the stories of collective resonance, people chose to participate in the group because of its stated goal. In some way they "resonated" with the purpose of the group before they joined it. Other times we find ourselves in groups which have a task or purpose, whether implicit or explicit, but we don't identify with the goal, or it seems somehow remote. The key seems to be not just for the group to have a goal or purpose, but for the intention to actually feel shared to its members.

Whether you are setting out to form a new group or belong to (even lead) an existing group, ask yourself if its purpose or intention is clear, and whether it is expressed in compelling, positive language. If not, you may want to engage in a high-involvement process such as Appreciative Inquiry or Future Search (or less formally,simply bringing all members of the group into the same room to have a dialogue about the group's purpose).

Sometimes the vision or purpose of an organization or group is clear, but feels a bit abstract or distant. Authors Collins and Porras explain that visionary companies have a habit of refreshing themselves and the commitment of their employees by establishing "BHAG"s--Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Another variation of this practice is to break "Build a Cathedral" down to the level of the wall your team is responsible for building.

Reference: Collins, James C and Porras, Jerry I. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. HarperBusiness, 1994.

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