Recently, I was in a meeting with an organization that considers itself small. We were discussing online marketing and I shared my philosophy that every decision should be rooted in organizational goals and strategy – whether you’re talking about social media ad purchases or institutional hiring plans. Their response: “That’s nice. But we’re not a large institution. What can a small organization like us do?”


Now PURPOSE Productions works with a range of folks, from individual artists and organizers to growing arts organizations. So this institution’s definition of small is already pretty different than mine, especially since I’ve watched one leader, a few friends, and a budget of their collective pockets build life-changing experiences. In any case, this organization defined itself as “small.” But all PURPOSE-full work starts with mission-based goal setting and then we develop strategy that supports those goals. And here’s the kicker…

You don’t have to be a large institution to think
purpose-fully and strategically.

We know this because while our path with each sojourner (read: client) is different, the foundational PURPOSE approach has guided just about everyone towards success – a success they defined for themselves.

After leading quite a few workshops about how and what we do, it’s become clear to me that I can’t go around telling everybody to do things like us. There are layers to why our way works – experiences, skills, community, ancestors – and everybody ain’t got those same layers in their cake. So you’ve gotta figure out how your ingredients mash up. What I can tell everybody is moving from PURPOSE works!

everybody ain’t got the same layers in their cake.
So you’ve gotta figure out how your ingredients mash up. What I can tell everybody is that moving strategically from PURPOSE works!

In February of 2012, I self-produced a show because dancers would NOT get out my dreams. In December of 2012, I announced the vision of PURPOSE Productions because a community was calling for my skills and support. In August of 2013, I left my full-time salary and benefits with no idea where I was going, but I knew it was time to bounce. In November of 2014, I asked for a bit of help because I saw the work suffering, and we soon had our first few PURPOSE-full Workers. For the last two weeks, I’ve embarked on 4-day work weeks with a 5th day of dreaming. Suddenly these “business” things I was never sure of are becoming clear – staff structure and training pathways, payment breakdowns, institutional partnerships, our mission and values, our audience…

I didn’t know I’d end up here, but every decision I made was rooted in PURPOSE, in my goal to support creative work that I believe in. And then I trusted the process and listened deeply the whole way. I shifted when I needed to shift, and I grounded when I needed to be still. I too am a “small” institution, but strategic thinking has been the pathway to my growth. In fact, PURPOSE Productions’ income (not my babysitting money, not my writing honorariums, but actual project income) has nearly doubled every year since 2013.

…every decision I made was rooted in PURPOSE…and then I trusted the process and listened deeply the whole way…strategic thinking has been the pathway to our growth.

So no matter how “small” you think you might be, it is PURPOSE and strategy that develops you, that pushes you toward your next level of success. You may not know what that success is. You don’t have to. As you trust the PURPOSE and the process, the answers will reveal themselves. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes though. You have to take the journey. You have to be uncomfortable sometimes. You have to dream beyond what you thought were your boundaries. You have to think differently of yourself. And you have to believe in every step you take.

I cannot give you all of YOUR answers. There is no one right way, no one size fits all solution. But I can tell you that moving from PURPOSE will lead you on the best path to YOUR success.