There is an organization process that fully engages the three components of choosing, prizing and acting. It is called chartering. Chartering seeks to heighten our awareness of intentions that we often have not recognized in ourselves or in our organization. This awareness is an important prerequisite for creating an appreciative organization and for effective decision-making about new directions for the organization. Chartering is an appreciative process that enables an organization to lean into its future. Like other forms of appreciation, however, chartering doesn’t just concern the processes of change and future prospects. It also concerns continuity and an honoring of the past. Chartering heightens our awareness of the underlying patterns that constitute the deeply embedded heritage of an organization.
Chartering doesn’t just look to the past and to the future, it also focuses on the present-day reality of the organization. It is a process that enables an organization to move beyond clarification of intentions to a clear and enabling formulation of the organization’s mission, vision, values and purposes. From the chartering process, one moves to the formulation of goals and objectives that are directly aligned with the organization’s intentions.
Specifically, an organizational charter is a formal statement of organizational intentions. This statement should be formulated in a manner that fulfills the seven criteria listed above. Furthermore, the statement of organizational intentions should encompass the four components we have already mentioned:
Mission: What is the business of this organization? The mission should be readily identified in the everyday and ongoing operations of the organization.
Vision: Where and how do we want this organization to change? How and when do we want this organization to be different from what it now is? What would we like it to be like one year in the future? What about two years or three years in the future? The vision should animate an organization, giving it breath and life. It should relate to the personal aspirations of each person in the organization.
Values: What guides us in our work within this organization? How do we choose to relate to one another and to our external customers? The values of an organization should be of highest priority. A core value should never be sacrificed for the sake of an attractive vision.
Purposes: How are we contributing to the welfare of our community and society? If this organization were to go out of existence tomorrow, what difference would its demise make in the world where we live and work? The social purposes of an organization should define the context within which it operates and defines its ultimate reason for being.
Most contemporary leaders would agree that organizational charters are a good idea. There is considerable skepticism, however, when it comes to the design and implementation of a chartering process that truly engages the interests and commitments of all members of an organization. How does a chartering process work and what are the appropriate roles to be played by the various stakeholders in the organization regarding the formulation of the charter? We have chosen to answer these practical questions and other related questions by offering an example of organizational chartering and the role played by an organizational consultant in helping to make this chartering process a reality.