When most groups start up, they begin by defining what they intend to do in the world. They use this defining exercise to bring others into their doing, whether these are people doing the work, people funding the work, or people impacted by the doing. Many of these groups call this their mission.
Is it a mission or a “mess-ion”? Saying that one is trying to achieve some impact for someone by doing something in a particular way is a form of a mission statement. The statement might seem to be clear. The who, what, and how. The more fundamental question is whether this statement brings coherence to a group of people, in service to the impact. This coherence, over time, requires a deeper set of agreements about what is being achieved, one’s connection to that purpose, one’s unique contribution to that purpose, the relationship one experiences in expressing one’s creative forces with others towards that purpose, and the efficient effectiveness of the group’s processes, structures, strategic focus, and invitation to include those being impacted by the work. It requires a strong agreements field. A field of agreements that clearly invites and connects people to a deeper shared purpose, to which they uniquely contribute in a trusting environment. That is a mission.
That is not what most groups have. Most groups have a mess-ion statement. A mess is a set of interrelated problems that are treated as separate, unrelated issues, according to systems theorist Russel Ackoff. A mess-ion provides misguided clarity for the direction of a weak agreements field—low engagement, transformation, and release of energy. It might seem to be clear, but its just a jumble of wires going in every direction. No coherence. With a mess-ion there is no deeper shared purpose, no harmonic from combining unique contributions, no engagement and trust in the experience, no use of the engaged energy. Little energy comes in and less goes out.
You can have a mess-ion, which will not do much, or you can have a mission. The difference is huge, in what can be invited, engaged, and transformed for a far greater impact. The difference is a choice. You choose.