The Power of a Manifesto

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As I work with Portfolio Executives, there are two things that become increasingly important. One is to help them to have a distinctive point of view about the world in which they inhabit and the second thing is for them to develop a stronger sense of personal purpose about what they’re trying to do through their work. One of the very powerful ways to start to articulate this and bring it into focus, is to develop a document that I call a manifesto.

So, what is a manifesto and why can it help to do this?

A manifesto has got three parts to it.

Part 1: What you believe

The first part is a set of “I believe” statements.  These are truths that you hold about the world in which you’re engaging.

For me,

“I believe that too many senior professionals are enslaved by toil and fear in the corporate workplace.”

It’s a point of view I’ve got about the world. Or it could be,

“I believe that as we get older, we find that institutional and cultural and societal ageism limits our opportunities to continues to develop a full-time corporate career.”

It’s a point of view I’ve got about the world.  And because it’s presented as I believe then it’s true: it’s true that I believe this.  I may be misguided. I may be wrong.  But it’s absolutely true that I believe this.  For your I believe statements to be true then they need to be authentic. They must be something that you truly believe.  It should also be a belief that’s important to you.

The first part of the manifesto is a set of I believe statements.

Part 3: What you hope to see

The third part of the manifesto, – yes I’m jumping ahead because you need to build it in this order – the third part of the manifesto is about the outcomes that you would  like to see in the world as a result of the activities that you conduct.  The things that I do “in order that” (this is the phrase that introduces these new statements) for example:

“In order that senior professionals can have freedom and joy in their working lives and establish a workstyle that enables them to offer more love to those they most care about.” Or it could be

“In order that senior professionals have strategies to build a long-term pattern of work that allows them to avoid and move beyond the limitations of ageism”.

I am identifying the end state that I’m looking for things to become. If ultimately everything I do is fully realised then this outcome will have been achieved.  The world will now be in this new state.

In my manifesto I’m talking about ideas on quite a big scale. For your manifesto, they may not need to be as broad reaching as that.  It could be some belief about the role of the finance function in an organization.  The outcome could be about the benefit that organizations will have when that role is fully realized. It doesn’t necessarily need to be some ground-breaking, transformational impact on society for it to be meaningful, valuable and important for you.

But it is important, in my view, you develop a distinctive point of view.

So what about the stuff in between?

Part 2: What you do and how you do it

The second part of the manifesto is what you do.

This is important because it sets the terms of reference for your activities.  For me, what I do is

“work with senior professionals to develop a Portfolio Executive workstyle that is going to give them a long-term, sustainable, rewarding and enjoyable way of working into their late sixties and beyond.”

 I may also, then talk a bit more about how I do it.  This part of what I’m doing is the ‘how’.  

“I provide one to one support and group work for senior professionals, using a framework called the Portfolio Executive Growth Academy.

You may also want to talk about both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’.

This three-part manifesto sets out

  • a distinctive point of view: a belief about the world.
  • A distinctive change that you’re trying to make – an outcome that you’re looking to achieve.
  • Something in the middle which is about the how and the what that you’re going to do.

Clarity about your personal agenda

Many of the people I talked to have come across Simon Sinek and his book ‘Start with Why’.  He also talks about the What and the How.

I often find people I’m working with is that they get confused about Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Goals and Plans.  This language is used differently in different contexts and there’s no shared understanding about what each of these elements are and how they relate to one another.  I have concluded that it cannot provide a framework for defining what they’re going to be about in this next stage of their life.

The ‘I believe’ statements start to articulate your Why.  Why you are doing the things you are doing and why you are seeking the outcomes you’re seeking.  The “outcomes” are also part of the Why.  They are the destination that you’re trying to take things to. The why I’m doing this is in order that these other things will happen.

The manifesto provides a simple structure that gives you something you can articulate. It gives you powerful way of starting to frame some of the content that you may want to build to establish your presence more widely. 

The terms of reference in the ’how’ and ‘what’ statements say what you ‘do’ and help you to exclude all those things that are going to be a distraction.

The ‘I believe ‘statements help you to be clearer about the kinds of organizations and the kinds of people that you want to work with because if they fundamentally do not believe what you believe then probably there’s no value in alignment.

The outcomes are a way of you defining in your own terms the value that you’re going to deliver to the clients you work with.


Following the disciplines of developing a manifesto is a very powerful way to get your own ideas straight without having to handcraft a set of long phrases that are meant to be your Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics and Goals. You don’t necessarily need to publish your manifesto externally.  It should become a place of reference that you can come back and revisit, evolve and develop as your own ideas come clear and clearer, as your own needs, how you want to engage with potential clients and build the future that matters to you, continue to evolve.

Yes, there is a power in asking the question Why?  Yes, you need to know the how and the what of your work.  Many of your clients will have a desire to articulate Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics and Goals. But for you as an individual, the most powerful way I believe of setting out your own personal agenda is to build a manifesto.

Do send me your draft manifesto.  I’d love to see it.  I’ll be happy to share with you the manifest I built for FuturePerfect. You can contact me at


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.