How to Write a Collective Transformational Purpose Statement

One of the five steps of the implementation process for becoming an InsideOut School is creating and writing a collective transformational purpose statement for your athletic program. While new to high school athletic programs, the writing of a collective purpose statement in the corporate world has been around for a long time. Fortune 500 Companies have been writing purpose statements that connect with employees and consumers for years. Below are a just a few examples of the power of a shared purpose. Each statement below gives the end user a sense of who the company is and what it can do for others.

  1. Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  2. Uber: Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.
  3. AT&T: To connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.
  4. Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
  5. Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

Purpose is good, shared purpose is better

Prior to writing a collective purpose statement, it is important you take the time to write your individual transformational purpose statement and identify your core values as a leader. This process should also be followed by every coach in your program. This is a necessary step in learning and growing from the InsideOut. Once you’ve determined your coaches are living and coaching to their purpose, bring them together and begin the process of creating a collective or shared purpose. The goal is come up with a statement that reflects who you are as an organization. Here is how to get started.

Why do we choose to exist together?

If we are going to change our broken sports culture, we need to do it together. We cannot operate in isolation. Below are some questions to use with your coaches to engage them in meaningful dialogue around a shared purpose. Break your coaches up into groups of four. Have them answer as a group the following questions.

  1. Why do education based co-curricular programs exist?
  2. What makes you proud to coach here?  
  3. What is our greatest strength as an organization?
  4. What do we want others to say about us?
  5. What are your personal core values?

The gallery walk

Post each question above individually on a piece of butcher paper and hang them around the room. Have each group start at a different question. Instruct them to answer each question based on the discussions they had in their small groups. After three minutes at each poster, rotate each group through each question. Have the coaches add statements not already shared by a previous group. After each group has contributed to each poster, have them rotate one more time through each question this time with a sticker dot. Instruct each coach to put a sticker dot next to the statement they believe to the best most important on each question. Rotate each group back to their original poster. Have each group report out on each question.

Large group discussion

Have each group present what has been written on the poster. Use the dots to determine what on each poster in the most important. As the facilitator, write down the key messages from each question on the whiteboard. The goal is to come up with a phrase that describes who you are as an athletic department and how you’ll help others. This process should identify your most important core values.

Make it sticky and keep it simple

After you’ve determined the most important thing you do as an athletic department and identify the most important core values, think of a way to make your collective purpose sticky. It needs to be something coaches, athletes and parents will know and remember. At Prior Lake High School,  we adopted the below graphic as our collective purpose statement.

Our collective performance character traits are legacy, assertiveness, knowledge, enthusiasm and resiliency. These are characteristics we hope our athletes will focus on in their personal effort to become the best version of themselves. Our collective moral character traits are love, appreciation, kindness, empathy and respect. These are the characteristics we hope our athletes will focus to make others around them better. When we see our athletes demonstrating one of the 10 core values, we respond by saying, “That’s Laker.”

Clearly defining your shared purpose will help your coaches understand what you’re trying to achieve. Aside from motivation to be purposeful about teaching character, a collective purpose will also enable coaches to make decisions in the best interest of their athletes with a goal of changing the arc of their life. It will also help you measure success beyond the scoreboard.