JCL Blog

The Power of Why

Some time back I commented on Ric Merrifield's book: "Re:Think" where he created definitions for How and What in a business context.  Today I came across a book that ads Why to the list:  Simon Sineks's book: "Start With Why". In this book Sinek argues that if you want to motivate people to do something, think about Why your company exists.

If you are interested in the topic, I recommend going to Mr. Sinek's web site and watching the 18 minute video introducing the idea at the TEDx Puget Sound.

I agree.  Here are his ideas applied to our business:

What (the business we are in): We help large technology companies sell more through their channel partners.

How (what makes us different from our competitors):  Like our competitors, we bring our capacity to do work to the table, unlike our competitors, we also bring our experience and expertise.  In other words, our competitors want to be told what to do -- and then they do it.  We help our clients decide what to do, and then we do it.

Why (do we exist):  We exist to create a great place to work.  Many people could think of our business as a commodity.  As processes that can be standardized so each and every last penny can be squeezed out of its production.  We have unmatched passion for working together with each other and our clients to do things that make a difference.

A great place to work -- really?  I say yes.  There are many reasons to work and countless studies about why people work.  Getting paid is in there, also the challenge, and also doing things that matter.  These are mostly focused on the end result of work -- the destination.  We are focused on the journey.  Working side be side with each other and with our clients to deliver measurable results makes for an awesome job.   

Social Media: a How or a What?

Yesterday I referenced Ric Merrifield's new book Re-Think where he helps companies see the difference between how things are done and what is being done.  Here is one of his early blog posts that will give you an idea for the concept.

Ric uses an example of someone sending a fax.  "What are you doing?" ... "Sending a Fax." (almost sounds like the "Making Copies" SNL bit.  He goes on to explain that people have a natural tendency to think that sending a fax (the how) is the actual value adding work -- when in fact it is just how the work is being done.

The fax is clearly old school now and that makes it a perfect illustration.  In fact, the fax is often used as an example of the value of the network effect -- the first owner of a fax machine could legitimately ask "Now what does this thing do?".

Social media is clearly a network, and it is clearly used for creating, organizing and tracking relationships and communicating broadly or directly with the people in those relationships.  Do these activities qualify as what we are trying to accomplish, or just how we are accomplishing something else?

Separating the How from the What

I heard Ric Merrifield speak today as he is promoting his new book:  Re-Think.  There is no question he is doing relevant work and I have already ordered a copy of the book.

I am most interested in the way he articulates the importance of separating the How from the What.  I see this problem often with clients that get caught up in doing the same old stuff bigger, faster, or cheaper -- all without asking "What are we doing?".

It is an easy trap to fall into and we all have to get better at raising the red flag when we see it happening. 

I am also interested in the heat maps -- more on that later (after I read the book).