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Raison d'etre

Purpose without action is a daydream, but action without purpose is a nightmare. Anonymous

Every organization is formed to do or accomplish something. The vision will help to define what it wants to become in the future, but there still remains the underlying question of what the organization is actually for.

Why exist? 
Organizations need to ask themselves for what reason they exist. For instance, is the job of a prison to punish wrongdoers, reform them or protect the public? Do religious groups see themselves as cultivating the spiritual side of people or getting involved in changing society through involvement in politics and social engineering?  Should a broadcasting company chase ratings to provide a vehicle for advertising and profit generation or cater for a wide variety of tastes and interests with quality material?  The raison d’etre may be altruistic - the National Trust’s ‘to preserve places of historic interest or natural beauty’. Alternatively, it may be the result of greed - an office syndicate’s ‘to win the national lottery’. There may be conflicting views as to what the raison d'etre is - a village started a tennis club as a way for residents to keep active and enjoy each other's company. This irritated some individuals who joined later and wanted to win matches and get to the top of the local league!

efining the raison d'etre:  The raison d'etre can be refined as opportunities present themselves. Airlines are now looking at getting involved with rail travel between major cities, such as London and Paris - but does this conflict with their raison d'etre?  If this is to transport people by air - then yes. However, if they see their raison d’etre as transporting people over medium to large distances - then no it doesn't. Similarly, airport authorities are redefining their raison d'etre from just managing airports, to managing the infrastructure required for international travel. This will include the possibility of managing international tunnels, such as Eurotunnel, shipping terminals and in the future, perhaps space shuttle gateways.

Publicize it
:  The raison d’etre of the organization should be explained in the annual report, brochure or similar document. Although these often go into much detail about the background of the senior executives, they often fail to explain exactly what the underlying reason and purpose of the organization actually is!  When the raison d’etre is changed or modified, this should be explained to the participants otherwise they could be confused by the subsequent actions of the organization. >>>