Purpose-2-Practice (P2P)

Design the five elements which are essential for a resilient and enduring initiative


P2P brings focus to an initiative involving a large number of stakeholders, and defines and shapes all the elements that will be implemented and governed by them. The group focuses on purpose, principles, participants, structure, and practices to scale up for success.

Image source: Liberating Structures

How to use it

  • Engage and focus everyone’s imagination in designing their collective future.
  • Avoid “design” by a small group of people behind closed doors.
  • Combine all the elements needed to launch and sustain an effort, avoiding a fragmented process.
  • Develop innovative strategies with shared ownership.
  • Increase resilience and the ability to absorb disruptions by distributing power and fairness.

How to apply it


Participants are invited to take part in the design of a new initiative together with other stakeholders by specifying five elements in the following order: Purpose, Principles, Participants, Structure, and Practices.


Use 1-2-4-All, working in smalls groups and the whole group for each element. Sitting around tables or in a group of chairs, all individuals who have a stake in launching the initiative have an equal opportunity to contribute.


Individual worksheets and a large wall poster to record whole group results.

  • 5 minutes: Introduce the idea of P2P, the five elements and related questions.
    • Hand out blank worksheets.
    • For the element Purpose, have participants answer the question: “Why is the work important to you and the larger community?”
  • 10 minutes: Use 1-2-4 to generate individual ideas and stories for Purpose.
  • 10 minutes: In groups of four compare, sift and amplify the top ideas.
  • 10 minutes: Whole group integrates themes and finalizes ideas for Purpose.
  • Move on to the next P-to-P element, repeat steps and revise as needed (expect some non-linearity).
  • Repeat the steps for each element by addressing the questions below (30 minutes each):
    • Principles:  “What rules must we obey in pursuit of our purpose?”
    • Participants: “Who must be included to achieve our purpose?”
    • Structure: “How will we organize (both macro- and microstructures) and distribute control in pursuit of purpose?”
    • Practices: “What are we going to do? What will we offer to our users/clients and how will we do it?”
  • 5 minutes: After each element, ask “Has this element shed new light that suggests revisions to previous elements?”

How to adapt it

  • Start with one 30-minute very rapid cycle to illustrate the need for a strong and clear purpose (without a sharp purpose it is easy to be side-tracked).
  • Graphic recording helps to hold attention and focus through the rigorous design process.
  • Use P2P to structure a much longer design session (e.g. a planning or strategy retreat).


  • Crafting a powerful, wildly attractive ‘purpose’ is the most important step; use Five Whys or Appreciative Interviews (AI) to deepen the conversation.
  • Work in quick cycles, learning from errors.
  • Multiple sessions spread out over weeks or months may be required.
  • Principles often come from hard lessons learned in the field.
  • Rely on small groups to do the heavy lifting, keep it progressing.
  • Use your intuition as the process unfolds.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments