desk, mug with label ‘we work'

Keeping the WHY alive in your organisation

desk, mug with label ‘we work'

For companies that have worked to establish clear messaging around their purpose – or WHY they do what they do – it is vital to protect the understanding of this message throughout every level of the organisation.

But this can be challenging as time goes on: new projects are taken on, new products developed, and different staff come and go. The core purpose that unites and motivates teams and draws loyal customers to the business can start to look fuzzy.

In their book Find Your Why, Simon Sinek, David Mead and Peter Docker suggest some strategies for keeping your ‘WHY’ alive as your organisation grows.

1. Leadership training

Citing their work with Fortune’s 100 Best Companies regular, Ultimate Software, the authors demonstrate that even a company excelling in creating a culture of purpose spends time and money on designing leadership training to equip their future leaders to carry on the message. ‘They use (their) WHY to shape the organization’s culture and they envision its future through that lens.’ (p. 209)

Does your leadership training program develop your people through the lens of your organisation’s ‘WHY’?

2. Alignment every day

Really living to your company purpose and values means aligning WHAT you do with WHY you do it – every day, at every level of staff and in every part of the business.

One way to measure and improve this is to include ‘WHY’ alignment in KPIs, providing opportunities for team discussion and for self-reflection and accountability. Questions such as, ‘What does the company’s statement of Purpose mean to me?’ and ‘How can our team embody this message in the work we do?’ may plant the seed for insightful discussions and subsequent action.

3. Enabling storytelling

Don’t be fooled by its simplicity; storytelling is a powerful tool to connect people with a meaningful sense of purpose in the work they do for your organisation. ‘Your WHY comes from your stories – the moments in your life when you were your very best self.’ (p. 210) The ‘Find Your WHY’ workshop method begins to collect team members’ stories of when they felt most inspired at your organisation, and uses these stories as fuel to connect your people with each other and with the core purpose of the organisation. When people share their own interpretations of the organisation’s ‘WHY’, a culture of living to meaningful values begins to evolve.

How might you share and promote stories of team members living the organisation’s WHY? Here are my tips.

  • Technology enables this significantly. If you have an internal newsletter or Intranet, you can encourage story-telling and celebration of stories here. Externally, your marketing and brand communications – including social media – should align with your company’s WHY.
  • Face-time matters too – allowing a few minutes at the start of a meeting or company event to share a success story about working to Purpose can inspire staff and external stakeholders alike.
  • Personal and Professional Development makes a real difference. Giving your staff the opportunity to explore how they connect personally with the organisation’s purpose, through facilitated discussions and personal brand work, can really start to make it meaningful and empowering for them.

Simon Sinek & team’s ‘Find Your Why’ method is relatively new in Australia. If you are interested in finding out more about it, please get in touch!