The “terrible twos” – it’s the infamous age where children become tenacious in exploring their independence, discover there is a reason for everything, and become quite famous for relentlessly asking, “Why?” However, as evidenced by the countless number of books, the topic of “why” has continuing significance today… even in business.
Bestselling authors, Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, and Simon Sinek suggest that an organization’s ability to answer its “why” is critical to its success and sustainability.
- In The Advantage, Lencioni states that an organization’s “why” yields their core purpose – their fundamental reason for being in business. Moreover, it is the first of Six Critical Questions essential for organizational clarity and health.
- In Start with Why, Sinek suggests that people are inspired by a sense of purpose – their “why.” Our purpose, cause, or belief drives every one of us and is directly connected to how we make decisions. Sinek argues that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
- And, in Built to Last, Collins & Porras uphold that enduring organizations understand why they exist. This can powerfully guide them in deciding what not to do and helps them avoid losing their way.
An organization with a clear reason for existing will inspire people, guide their behaviors, and pilot decision-making regarding its future.
Additionally, these authors agree that an organization’s “why” must be inspirational, aspirational and grand. Lencioni goes as far as to say your “why” needs to be completely idealistic. It starts with asking, “How do we contribute to a better world?” Collins & Porras affirm that, similar to the inquisitive 2-year old, an organization needs to ask, “Why do we exist?” then ask “Why?” and “Why do we do that?” again and again, until the answer leads to the highest purpose or reason for existence.
At North Group, we exist to support the development of leaders and organizations toward their highest potential. Why do you exist?
Stay tuned for our March 4th blog, when Mitch Taylor of Mersen explains their “why.”