Simon Sinek’s ‘How great leaders inspire action’ remains one of the most popular TED talks ever. Sinek says ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ Research from a cross-section of industries has proven that organisations that put their ‘why’ at the centre of everything they do are more likely to have motivated employees, loyal customers and continuously improving product, processes and profitability.
While fundamentals such as product design, the supply chain, marketing, sales and cash flow cannot be ignored, people wanting to grow their organisations could benefit by thinking about their products and services through the ‘so what’ lens rather than simply the ‘what’ lens. How are your products and services, (your ‘what’) going to leave your customers and your community in a better place (your ‘so what’).
Not for profit organisations know that increasingly funders are not so much interested in what they do, but the difference their work makes. Accordingly, they are developing systems to help them focus on, measure and report the short-term changes (outcomes) and longer-term benefits (impact) of their work. Similarly, businesses benefit when their measurements of success are not simply historical financial results but include non-financial key performance indicators focused on the behaviours that drive the desired organisational results.
Leaders who understand, communicate and prioritise their organisation’s ‘why’ in decision making are inspirational. The common understanding of why what they do is important unifies the team, improves efficiencies and frees up time and energy for innovation.
Why not What
This article was first published in the Mercury Bay Informer of 5 February 2020. See www.theinformer.co.nz