In the first of this series of blogs we explored the core question, “WHY does your business exist?” Once you uncovered the answer, we explored HOW you will achieve purpose. Now we’ll explore how critical it is to really get through the first two questions before you can answer the third and final question in Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle infographic. “WHAT should you do to deliver on the promise of your WHY?”
Late last week, starting with WHY, helped Dan uncover the root of a problem that’s been plaguing him for weeks. He showed-up wondering how he could motivate one of his long-term employees (sound familiar?) now that he’s taken the on a high-profile project for implementing a new program for their human services clients.
He recruited a strong team and quickly discovered that Jan wasn’t buying in. She shows-up late for meetings, if at all, and doesn’t share her ideas, refuses to volunteer for anything and the comments she makes are negative. It’s behavior that’s completely out of character. Rather than focus on Jan’s behavior, I was curious to find out what might be causing her resistance and asked Dan, “WHY are you introducing this new program?” He was quick to answer, “People deserve inclusive support programs that are consistent and innovative.” When, I asked, “WHY is consistency important?” He answered without hesitation but got stuck trying to answer my follow-up question, “WHY is innovation important?” Eventually he admitted that, for him, innovation requires replacing proven policies and procedures with fresh approaches that might bring real progress.
As he voiced this point, it dawned on him that the new approaches might pose serious risks that need to be carefully thought through. Maybe Jan’s behavior was a reflection of concerns everyone was feeling. While Dan’s been advocating for real change, fear has been the elephant in the room at every meeting. He and his team hadn’t answered the question - HOW can we safely deliver this program?
On his way to the next week’s meeting, Dan stopped at a local toy shop and made a quick purchase. At the start of the meeting h asked, “WHY are we introducing our new program?” Once the team agreed on their WHY, he introduced the “elephant in the room,” the plush and stuffed member of the project team. When he asked everyone to imagine what the elephant is thinking concerning the risks associated with the project, he saw folks breathe a collective sigh of relief and then they started talking. He noted every risk and related concern and then extended the conversation by asking, “With safety as our goal, HOW do we want to design and deliver the program?” With a clear HOW, he was able to get people talking about WHAT this program will look like to our clients and other stakeholders.”
Dan sees a team that’s reengaged in designing an innovative e program that can become a model for other agencies to replicate, around the country.
You know your WHY and your HOW. For every HOW, start asking WHAT are we/could we do to deliver on our WHY. Not sure? Ask for help. Start with customers who invest in your products and services then ask the people who serve on your formal and informal board of directors, and be sure to include your employees. Expect the unexpected when you expand your search and tap the experts in your field and thought leaders from different industries. Seek out new perspectives and unconventional ideas. Translate your answers into a business plan, invest in your plan and keep it alive by constantly asking , WHY? HOW? and WHAT? are we doing to consistently deliver on our WHY?
What’s your WHY – HOW – WHAT success story? Share it with us and we’ll pass it along to inspire and educate other professionals who are bringing their WHY to life.
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