Don’t you ever wonder about the future? What will the new organization-shapes look like? What will my work look like in the coming decades? 

Change is approaching faster than we think in this fast-paced 21st century.  Maybe that’s why everything is becoming more shapeless, virtual or fluid: 

>> We used to work from 9-5, now we work any time

>> We used to work in an office, now we can work anywhere.

>> We used to have a clear career ladder, now we create our own career path. 

>> From large massive organizations, to small agile ones. 

>> To owning everything, to owning nothing, like taxi-company Uber.

>> From power to a few persons, to power to the people through the Internet.

For a long time we accepted the already existing form (getting married in your twenties, same religion or political preference as your parents, chasing career status). Now, it seems that the sky is the limit.  These new times invite us to be designers. But how can we best do this?

Take the purpose as your starting point

This concept is so simple that once you get the hang of it, it sticks with you. It all evolves around this truth: Every form is an expression of an intention or purpose.

Working from 9-5 (form) was once created, because it was practical to have everyone at one place at the same time (purpose). 

A table (form) has a flat surface, because it is designed to hold things (purpose). 

A hierarchy organizational chart (form) was designed to make centrally influenced decisions (purpose).

When a form fits the function really well you immediately notice the good design. Imagine the ambience in your favorite coffee spot – the music, the staff, the cups (forms) everything seems to be made to let you feel at home (purpose). Or imagine your favorite chair – it seems like it’s especially designed for your body.

We also recognize the poor ‘designs’, where the actual form doesn’t fit the meaning of the product or service (anymore). Think of team meetings, where we were meant to connect with colleagues and remain up-to-date, but often these get-to-gethers just cause an energy-drain.

If you focus on the purpose first and stick to it while exploring ideas, it serves as inspiration to create a better-chosen process. If your purpose is to connect with your colleagues, it is better to have a coffee, take a walk or play a quick game than choose a suffocating room without windows and a flipchart without markers. And if your purpose is also to remain up-to-date with your colleagues work, you better design a 1-min pitch process to keep momentum.

Now try it yourself answering two questions

1. What is the real purpose?

So before the next meeting, project or holiday, take a few minutes and start concentrating on your intention. What is it that you are trying to accomplish for others or yourself? Formulate a brief, inspiring statement.

2. What is the best form that fits the purpose?

Now allow the creativity to kick in and come up with a suitable form. Be aware of settling for the first ideas. I challenge you to come up with more than five ideas, just to train yourself in this concept. Most importantly, allow yourself to let go of assumptions or rules and restrictions. They often don’t make sense any more. Choose the best idea for the form with the intention in mind, execute and enjoy!

Try this for yourself, but also together with your colleagues or family – the discussion on the purpose will give you more insights than you imagine and their creativity might surprise you!

Originally published at