Do you know why you do what you do? Not what you do, but why you do it. Does your company know its why? Is it important for your company to know its why? Well, according to Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, the best companies and the longest-lasting companies in the world know their why. His clear example is Apple. We all know Apple – they make computers. But why are they so innovative? Sinek argues it is because they understand their why, which is Apple exists to challenge the status quo and they refuse to believe that things cannot be improved upon. So when Apple talks about what products they are going to produce, they talk about how to challenge what exists. Apple does not simply say, let’s build a new technology gadget that is pretty and user friendly. And it has worked very well for them. It creates loyalty in customers who want to be part of what Apple is.
Developed from Sinek’s research is the Golden Circle. Imagine a bullseye target. In the middle is why, second ring is how, outside ring is what. Companies often focus on what they do, sometimes thinking about how they do it, and rarely thinking about why they do it. To ignite passion in your teams and in your customers, organizations need to start with the why. Just as Apple has started with our passion is to change the status quo and thus luring in customers who believe they won’t accept the status quo.
It is easy to think about things in terms of “what.” What do you do? Sell vacations, sell skis, build houses. We could get into the “how.” But how many times do you find an organization that says: We help people visit their dreams, we give people tools for excellent outdoor adventures, we create homes for your family to build a life in. When you find those organizations, how do you react? “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek.
What happens without the why? After reading Sinek’s book a few years back, I asked the board of the nonprofit I was working for, “Why does this organizations exist?” I was told, “We hold networking events and we educate business owners,” – the what. It was pretty uninspiring, I tell you. I continued to push, looking for a purpose to the organization rather than just “we have dinner parties.” The activities, or the what we did was very similar to what we do at the Fernie Chamber. But there was no purpose to it, there was no passion, there was no why. I did not stay with that organization long.
Working at the Chamber, the organization has a mission to strengthen commerce in Fernie. That is the Chamber’s why. To strengthen commerce is to make business easy, to support business owners in their success, to educate business owners so they can do better. Our actions are guided by the fact that we are passionate about supporting businesses, which will strengthen commerce.
January is often a time to review goals and plans and dreams. I challenge you to think about your goals in terms of passion. In terms of the impact that you want to make, and the impact you want your company or organization to make.
Here is a little snipet from the website www.startwithwhy.com that can help with this exercise. Fill in the blanks to create your personal why statement – To ____(your contribution)______ so that __________(your impact).
(Image can be seen at https://www.startwithwhy.com/LearnYourWhy.aspx)