During the last several years I’ve lost count of the number of hours I’ve spent privy to conversations discussing the misleading nature of the word “Aim” and seeking to find a suitable alternative that describes more accurately what we mean by the word… erm… “Aim”… in sociocracy!
Tonight the following question crossed my screen and it prompted this brief post…
I’ve been asked this question so many times, and never been able to give a clear answer. Does anyone know why in sociocracy we use the term “Aims” instead of “Objectives”?
My answer as follows:
Both “yes” and “no”!
The thing is, the word “Aim” in itself is misleading!
What we’re really taking about when using the word “Aim” is “Products” / “Services” / “Raw Materials” / “Experiences” / “Transformations”. (I’m ever grateful to my friend Nathaniel Whitestone for this definition)Read more...
As well as the fact that an “Aim” can be both physical or non-physical, it’s also the case that “Aims” are both inwards looking (to the organisation itself) and outwards looking (to the customer, member, resident etc).
So, whereas an “Aim” in an organisation may be “administration” or “management” or “building maintenance”, an “Aim” of an organisation may be a “software application”, or a “shared laundry”, or a “legal advice walk-in center”.
At the highest level the organisation itself is an “Aim”! Equally, every Circle (department / domain), by nature of its existence has at its centre a unique “Aim” or “Aims”.
When I lead a workshop, the workshop is an “Aim” that I deliver to my “customers”. So too are the Hand-outs, the follow-up emails, the Flip Chart Photographs, etc.
It’s vital that Circles know what their “Aim/s” are. One, because an aimless circle is impossible to imagine – although it’s not so difficult to imagine groups of people who haven’t clarified the aim they’re gathered around! – and two, because all “policy proposals” relate to a Circles “Aim/s” and are developed when a Circle runs into an issue or challenge that requires an innovative strategy and that until now they’ve not established agreement around, regarding how to approach it.
In consent decision making, we raise “Objections” to policy or policy proposals in light of discovering a reason why continuing as proposed may harm the “Aim” of the circle, the shared “Aims” of the organisation, or someones ability to contribute to that “Aim”.
So you see, the word “Objective” is not entirely accurate either, and the word “Aim” is completely misleading because it commonly implies “target” or “the point we’re heading for”!
We can say “Purpose”, yet “purpose” can also be interpreted to imply a wider scope that includes Vision and Mission as well.
So, what to do?
My all-time favourite term until now is “Unique Value Provision” (UVProvision).
It’s a bit of a mouthful… none the less, I’ll shortly be adding it to my literature. I like “UVProvision” because in Business Development we refer to the “Unique Value Proposition” or UVP and among this audience at least, people immediately get what I’m talking about.
The term “Unique Value Provision” also points to the fact that organisations distribute leadership and decision making authority across semi-autonomous teams, defined on the basis of the different “Aims” / “UVProvisions” that they serve and maintain.
I think that the word “Deliverable” also turns the light on for many people, only it’s a less favorable term within communities and many social transformation groups because of it’s easy association with sales and commercial services.
Perhaps you have some suggestions that you consider noteworthy. If so, please use the contact form if you’re be willing to share your inspiration. For sure, an alternative to the word “Aim” is long overdue!