Why before What

In this TED video, Simon Sinek summarizes a key thing that differentiates an idea that catches on vs. one that plops.

This is relevant to us at a couple of levels.

First, as Sinek points out, truly great companies succeed because they stand for something higher. They have a “why” that drives what they do and how they do it.

Companies that cannot articulate what they stand for are at a competitive disadvantage vs. those who can.

But these concepts are also critical to those of us who are trying to sell the concept of changing the way our own organizations run. Watch the video – then continue below.

In spite of what is taught in the business schools, business decisions are rarely made based on financial analysis and rates of return. Those things are carefully constructed, but often after the fact to justify what someone wants to do already (i.e. has already decided to do).

When we try to sell our changes, we often try to address the “what’s in it for me?” but still continue to try to make logical “what” type arguments.

That doesn’t work. It has to feel right.

Think about your own organization. When or where do things feel like they are going really well, what is aligning? What values are being realized? How do those moments differ from times or places where things are not going so well?

What makes people say “OH Yeah!” ?

As you try to make the case for “lean” or continuous improvement in your organization, are you crystal clear what you believe in? Can you articulate it? Do others in the company want to believe in the same things?

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