This Fall, our team finalized MAYA Consulting’s first purpose statement — “to support equity and excellence in community, so we all live a good life.” The process of naming our purpose and underlying beliefs has been so important for us to create more clarity, connection, and meaning to our work. Several of our consultants have already shared an immediate improvement in their ability to communicate about what, how, and why we work.
The journey to writing MAYA’s purpose began in December 2019 when Alex Cantu interviewed for our Business Manager role in the Barton Springs Room of Education Service Center Region 13. I remember being excited about both the prospect of not having to spend so much time processing invoices and about getting to know Alex. “What are you reading right now?” I asked him. “Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan, an organizational design expert,” Alex shared during the interview.
After getting over my initial ‘nerd alert’ reaction to his book choice, we ended up hiring Alex. Little did we realize at the time how much Alex’s and Dignan’s approach to helping teams create “people positive” and “complexity conscious” organizations would influence MAYA.
As a two year-old, small startup with a team made up of educators (former teachers, administrators, and professors) dissatisfied with status quo, bureaucratic systems that produced only marginal results, Brave New Work and Alex’s facilitation brought a new set of paradigms to MAYA. We designed better ways to use information, to convene and coordinate with each other, to share power in decisions, and to organize ourselves. Defining our purpose — how we orient and stear; and the reason for being at MAYA — is our most recent process and product to design what Dignan’s calls our OS Canvas.
Consistent with the first belief (Support) behind our purpose — that the most sustainable solutions to complex challenges are created in community — we came together as a MAYA team to ask ourselves a few questions: Why did we join MAYA? Why do we continue to work here? Why does MAYA exist? What can we be best at in the country? Who do we want to be in the future?
We talked. We laughed. We pushed each others’ thinking. We shared our different opinions about comma usage. Most importantly, we worked together, in community.
In addition to Support, the other beliefs are described on our website and as follows:
- Equity and Excellence (which is still under development) – We believe that building truly inclusive spaces where power is shared, and where privilege is recognized and actively utilized, is the most strengths-based way to approach MAYA’s purpose to achieve equity and excellence.
- In Community: We believe our best work is done in community. This means prioritizing building power for community members who are marginalized and who will be most impacted by a change. When all people share power, we can bridge short-term wins to longer-term, systemic results.
- So we all: Inspired by Lilla Watson, we believe liberation of one community is bound up with the liberation of all communities. This means every member of a community not only has the space to define the opportunities they need to live a good life, but benefits from working together to ensure we all live a good life.
- Live a good life: We believe the goal of our work is to ensure we all live a good life, a concept defined by students, parents, and educators, supported by Dr. Erin Raab. A “good life” includes five parts — productive work, rewarding relationships, creative self-expression, civic and political engagement, and health.
MAYA’s purpose makes me even more excited to get up every day, to work in community with an incredible team and clients, and to ensure we all live a good life.