I’ve written here before about the CORE PRIME, but only briefly. Today I want to delve a little deeper into the topic because it is so important.

Having been involved in projects at a number of organizations, I’ve seen all types, including organizations that were struggling to hang on and those that were humming along. You can feel the difference when you’re in one kind of organization versus the other – the energy feels different. In high functioning organizations, you can sense that people are working on something engaging and that there’s a shared sense of purpose. In organizations that are struggling, there’s a disconnect between mission and action, and that leads to lethargy, missing deadlines, and overall unhappiness.

The core question is always, “What sets these two types of organizations apart?”

Through many years of experience, I discovered the answer: The CORE PRIME.

The 5 essential pieces of the CORE PRIME
There are five core agreements that make up this PRIME:

  1. As Is
  2. Environment
  3. Stake
  4. To Be
  5. Strategy

What do they mean?

As Is refers to what’s happening now. What is the current situation? Being aware of the reality of what’s currently going on in an organization is always the first step in evaluation or transformation.

Environment refers to the things around you. What is the overall environment you’re working in? What is affecting you that you don’t have control over?

Stake is about what will or won’t happen as a result of inaction. What’s at stake if you stay where you are and keep doing what you’re doing?

To Be is about the vision for the future. What are you trying to make happen? Sharing a vision is an integral factor in high functioning organizations.

When an organization agrees on the first four questions, it creates the essential “life support system” so the last question – Strategy – can thrive.

Strategy always comes last, and that’s not an accident. The CORE PRIME is powerful because it recognizes that Strategy matters in the context of the other four questions or agreements. Strategy is about the how: What do you plan to do to get to where you’re going?

All five points work together, and each one is essential to ensure that the organization is healthy. If just one agreement is absent, there can be no CORE PRIME.

The difference between high and low functioning organizations

In high functioning organizations, everyone will have a deep understanding of these issues, and they’ll all have the same answers to these questions. They have the same context in which they act.

That’s not the case for low functioning organizations. People in these organizations may have no answer for some of these questions, or they may get vastly different answers from their team members. They may all be in agreement on what the Strategy is, but there’s no context for it – no life support system created by the first four agreements. The Strategy will never be as effective as it is in organizations where there’s agreement on the As Is, Environment, Stake, and To Be. In a struggling organization, they may agree on what they’re doing, but they don’t know why they’re doing it.

Get back to basics: Revisit your CORE PRIME

I challenge you and your organization to address the CORE PRIME. If you asked the members of your team the five questions above, would they all have the same answer? Do they all have a deep understanding of the context from which your Strategy emerged and in which it thrives? If you can’t answer “yes” to both of these questions, get back to basics. Sit down and discuss where you are, what’s around you, what’s at stake, where you’re going, and – lastly – how to get there.

Remember, there are a total of 46 PRIMES. But the CORE PRIME is the fundamental one that makes true transformation possible.