Going beyond the ‘why’: how to perform in a challenging market
There’s a flavor of the week every five minutes in this industry it seems, but Matt Kwiecinski of Journey Further maintains one thing: stay connected to your purpose.
How do you convince people to care about your business? / Nik via Unsplash
What should we call the period of time in which we find ourselves? Look online and there’s no shortage of perspectives: the age of inequality; the new normal; the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Take your pick.
Whatever the label you choose, most would agree that we’ve never experienced the rate of change that we’re experiencing today. As business leaders, we’ll always have difficult decisions to make. Of course, impermanence is always the reality of life, but how do you make ‘good’ decisions when all around you appears to be in a heightened state of flux?
Respect the past to better define the future
When we started the business back in 2017, we worked really hard to identify our central purpose. Inspired by writers, including Simon Sinek, we recognized the importance of taking this approach. Creating a business that has a strong heart and soul was something we needed to do for ourselves and the industry - industry malpractice needed to be replaced by purpose and principles.
I’m sure that most business leaders know the core essence of ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek, but for those who don’t:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
“Every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do”.
By why, Sinek means what is your purpose, cause or belief? Why does your company exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care?
By pulling yourself back to your central purpose, you can find direction when all around you is in a heightened state of flux. You avoid the temptation of simply reacting, and can ensure you’re asking yourself the question, ‘does this decision still align to our central purpose?’
But unless you're comfortable with making all of the decisions for all of your business, all of the time, then you need to find a way to scale your purpose-driven approach.
The why + the how + the what
Fundamentally, these three pillars should be carefully considered and should reinforce each other.
By establishing a clear and obvious connection between these three important parts, every employee can proactively ensure that their shared purpose becomes a reality. The closer the alignment, the better and as a result, businesses have a higher potential to perform. So, how do you connect these three important pillars?
Use precise language
Anyone in your business needs to be able to connect the dots instantly. If the language used is imprecise, then the action taken by employees is far less likely to align to the central purpose.
Repetition, repetition, repetition
When you think you've talked about these three important pillars too much, talk about them more. Why? Because the urgent always wants to drive out the important. If you don’t repeat and repeat and repeat, short-term necessity will dilute alignment to your central purpose. Immediate circumstance or personal bias will increasingly dictate the decisions you make. Short-term gain might be experienced but at the expense of longer-term purpose-driven success.
Create spaces to drive change, together
The connection between these three key pillars needs to be established by all employees, and not forced upon them. Leadership, therefore, needs to ensure that there is dedicated time for the business to critique (en masse) business actions and behaviors, and drive forward your why.
To establish and support congruent behavior and kill incongruent behavior. To collectively think about the proactive ways in which the business can join the dots – establish the new ways in which a stronger connection can be made between the why, the how and the what.
Is it the age of inequality, the new normal or the rise of AI? Of course, it’s all of the above. But in this heightened state of flux, what we should still really care about most is our connected purpose.
Content by The Drum Network member:
Journey Further is a performance brand agency based in Leeds, Manchester, London and New York.
Designed to deliver Clarity at Speed for the world’s leading brands and ambitious start-ups, the agency connects clients directly with a senior team, working in real-time and with complete transparency to deliver previously unthinkable results.