Leadership and culture

CPRs: Get on track. Stay on purpose. Finish strong.

Published on February 12, 2022

You’ve built a trusting team and cultivated an infinite mindset. You’re practicing purpose-driven, results-oriented management and leading with the holistic perspective of a spiritual capitalist. Well done! Now you’re ready for the context-purpose-results (CPR) tool that helps you consistently put those principles into practice and take deliberate, intentional action that gets the job done, no matter the task at hand.

Actually, you’re ready for the tool even if the principles and values driving you and your organization are unclear or evolving. After all, everybody is a leader in some capacity, and you’ve got work to do.

Let’s say, for instance, you have to roll out a new customer-facing service, overhaul your company’s IT security, or deliver some other high-value, high-profile project. Or maybe you simply need to handle routine duties like holding a weekly status meeting or planning the day ahead.

Regardless of the activity, the CPR tool generates plans (aka CPRs) that provides the clarity and motivation that you and your team need to get on track, stay on purpose, and work together to cross the finish line.

As you’ll see below, a CPR is more than a to-do list. It’s more like a “what to do, why to do it, let’s do this!” list. When written down, CPRs provide a needed counterbalance to the anxiety, apathy, distractibility, and uncertainty that can derail even the best leaders, managers, and teammates.

Anatomy of a CPR

A CPR is a document that includes clear, defined outcomes (results); the value or importance of your project or task (purpose); and the ideal mindset or attitude you need to get the job done (context). The following prompts will help you think through each element as you write out your CPR.

Note that you don’t have to create your CPR in any specific order. You can start with any element–context, purpose, or results–and then move to another until all three are done. Write them in the order that works best for you.

To make sure you’re on the right track with each element, you’ll find examples of context, purpose, and results. Jump to the bottom of this post to see a few complete CPR examples.

Context. Your context is the state of mind, attitude, or qualities you need to maintain in order to perform the activity. Context sparks emotion, expresses the spirit of the CPR, and is best written as brief statement or phrase.

When you find yourself or your team distracted, your context serves as a reminder that refocuses attention on the task at hand. Likewise, context serves as a rally cry that wards off apathy and dejection by reigniting motivation.

For an IT security project, the context might be “Not on my watch,” “Securing our future,” or some other expression of vigilance and protection. In IT operations, the context could focus on availability and performance: “Unstoppable” or “Faster than ever.” A support team’s context may be “We got you” or “Compassion and competence” to reflect their role as frontline problem solvers and troubleshooters.

Repeat your context as often as needed, to yourself and to your team, to inspire forward progress, especially when things get rocky or you want to quit.

Purpose. Your purpose is the reason why you’re doing the activity. The purpose statement combines that reason with two other components: 1) the action you’ll take to do the activity, that is, how you’ll do it and 2) the primary, most important benefit of the activity. That’s a lot of work for one statement, so it should be concise—a sentence or two—to make it meaningful and memorable.

Use the “to-by-so that” phrases shown below to ensure that your purpose statement includes all three components. The “to” phrase is the reason. The “by” phrase is the action you’ll take, and the “so that” phrase is the primary benefit. For example:

“The purpose of our 2022 digital transformation initiatives is to prepare our company for the future of work by deploying digital-first, remote-first technologies so that we can best serve our employees, our customers, and communities.”

You may find it easier to put each phrase in a separate bullet, as shown here:

“The purpose of our digital transformation initiative is

  • “to prepare our company for the future of work
  • “by deploying digital-first, remote-first technologies
  • “so that we can best serve our employees, our customers, and communities.”

Notice that your reason (the “to” phrase) looks a lot like one of your results. That’s because it is. Specifically, your reason is your most important, highest priority result. We’ll cover results next. For now, just know that as you create your list of results, one will emerge as the most important. Make sure to use that one as your reason.

Results. Your results are the outcomes you want to achieve. Write your results in a list, with each result written as a separate line item that you can cross off as it’s achieved. And write your results in the past tense to emphasize the outcome rather than the pursuit of the outcome, a core principle of results-oriented work.

Results need to be measurable so that you can determine whether they were achieved. That said, you can make your determination using quantitative or qualitative measures. Quantitative measures don’t work so well for values-based results.

Write down as many results, in as much detail as needed, as appropriate for the people who will be using the CPR. Results that support the project but are not specific to it are often ignored.

For instance, you want to work in alignment with the underlying values that guide your company and adhere to the overarching philosophy directing its operations. List them as results if needed, e.g., “Maintained customers’ data privacy at every point of the digital transformation” or “Used open source code wherever possible.”

Veteran team members probably won’t need to be reminded of such results. The company’s values and culture have become second nature to the vets, so they’ll achieve them unconsciously. Newer team members, however, may fail to achieve such results simply because they aren’t familiar with those values or steeped in the company’s culture.

Putting it all together: Example CPRs

When written out, your CPR will look something like the ones here. Please keep in mind these samples are for illustration purposes only, to give you an idea of CPR format and what a CPR looks like. Note the results sections have been truncated for readability. Actual CPRs can have dozens of results.

2022 digital transformation initiative CPR

Context: Futureproof business for the benefit of all

Purpose: The purpose of our 2022 digital transformation initiatives is to prepare our company for the future of work by deploying digital-first, remote-first technologies so that we can best serve our employees, our customers, and communities.

Results:

  • Prepared our company for the future of work.
  • Deployed monitoring solutions that support variety of channels, devices, locations used by employees, customers, and partners (see Omni-support CPR).
  • Updated security posture with solutions that create a Zero Trust IT environment (see Zero Trust CPR).
  • Introduced AI-based tools that enable personalized experiences at scale (see AI CPR).
  • Performed all work in line with company values (see Values CPR)

Given the scope of this initiative, its CPR takes some results and breaks them into distinct CPRs. Using such nested CPRs streamlines the original, 2022 digital transformation initiative CPR. The original CPR lets you and your team effectively manage the overall initiative while each nested CPR lets you dive deeper into each initiative result.

Weekly team meeting (Jan 10, 2022) CPR

Context: Informed team, united front

Purpose: The purpose of the weekly team meeting is to keep us current on our IT infrastructure and team dynamics by reviewing recent issues and changes so that we continue to operate effectively and deliver unsurpassed digital experiences to our end users and customers.

Results:

  • Reviewed changes to end user SLAs.
  • Reviewed new iOS and Android patching process.
  • Reviewed cloud security updates.
  • Confirmed team’s February shifts and vacation days.

Final thoughts

CPRs work regardless of how you lead and manage, but they’re particularly well-suited to values-driven leadership and management style practiced by the spiritual capitalists at ManageEngine and elsewhere.

CPRs promote clear communication and reinforce the big picture, the organizational “just cause” and personal “why” advocated by leadership expert Simon Sinek. And they define the work that needs to be done and thereby foster the accountability that managers need and the autonomy that employees crave.

Give CPRs a try, and let us know what you think. And if you’d like some CPR help or suggestions, just drop us an email at insights@manageengine.com and put “CPR” in the subject line.

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