Purpose – Can You Work Without It?

In product development, working without purpose encourages a clock-in clock-out culture where individuals care about their own tasks at the expense of others and overall product success. Scrum has Product Goals and Sprint Goals that encourage inspired collaboration to achieve both business and product objectives. In this video with Greg Crown and Robb Pieper from Responsive Advisors we discuss that and more.

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Robb: What’s the problem with working without purpose? Can you do it? Sure. You can do it, but I mean, Greg, what do you say, like, can we just work without purpose?

Greg: Yeah, you can, but I think that It only works if you just like things to do and don’t really want to be accomplished in what your work is. But I think after a time, you kind of run out of steam with that. I mean you can only do so much and then exhaustion kicks in, you know?

Robb: Sure, yeah. When you have no real reason to do the work that you do, why do you keep going? When it’s 5 o’clock why would you continue working if you have no purpose? Like, if your purpose is just to get a paycheck you punch your clock and you get out.

Greg: Right. I think the longer people get into it, eventually then, it’s just the benefits of basically that, just collecting the check, clock in clock out, call it a day. And you know, there is a time and a place for that kind of work, but there’s a lot of businesses that suffer because people don’t actually have purpose behind it. They do just that, clock in clock out.

Robb: Yeah, and then in Scrum we have two ways to talk about purpose. We have a Product Goal which gives us focus for a while on developing something for a product to make it better, accomplishing some larger business goal, and then every Sprint we have Sprint Goals — and I know nobody actually cares about this and they watch the other YouTube videos we have on the subject — but purpose is super important! I mean, just look at Dan Pink’s video about “Drive”: Autonomy, mastery and purpose. And it’s surprising how many people just forget about purpose.

Greg: When I think about what people get excited about, there’s always a reason for it. And so maybe that’s another word behind it. You got a purpose — that sounds maybe a little churched up for some — but just honestly having a reason behind it. I’m doing this, “because”. But then when you have a bigger cause or a bigger reason for your work? Wow, I think that’s just something you can get behind. You actually start enjoying things with people that you do the work for. I think that enhances collaboration and actually doing work with people versus just being in a silo or working in a cave or you know minding your own business.

Robb: Sure. We need purpose, but yeah, great topic.

Robert Pieper

Robert Pieper has been a licensed Scrum.org Professional Scrum Trainer since 2014 and National Public Speaker since 2013. Robb holds an MBA from Marquette University and an Electrical Engineering Degree from Milwaukee School of Engineering. Robb has 15 years of professional software development experience with a passion for making Scrum work delivering real products and services
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