From Our Board: Start with why

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 at 8:53 am and is filed under Business Lessons, Guest blogs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

A business question I have pondered a lot lately is, “Why? Why do we do what we do?”

Many of you have probably seen the TED video by Simon Sinek on this topic. He also has a great book: Start With Why, which I highly recommend.

As business leaders, a critical part of leading is figuring out and identifying your purpose—the ‘why’ behind what you do. Once you have nailed that down, it’s important to realize it throughout your organization. That clarity and focus can be a key to ensuring that your business is successful.

Daniel Pink, author of the book Drive, says it nicely:

“In business, we tend to obsess over the ‘how’ – as in ‘Here’s how to do it.’ Yet we rarely discuss the ‘why’ – as in ‘Here’s why we’re doing it.’ But it’s often difficult to do something exceptionally well if we don’t know the reasons we’re doing it in the first place.”

Some questions to ask could be:

- Why do we do what we do?
- Why do our customers do business with us instead of another provider?
- What has kept us in business so long?
- What benefits do we provide?
- What differentiates us from our competitors?

The key is to start with why, and then work your way out. It’s easy to explain what you do, or how you do it. But explaining why can be tricky. Figuring that out is what inspires and helps build success.

Is your why helping your clients succeed? Is it making someone happy? Is it creating a new product or developing a new technology? No matter what it is, make sure that you clearly define it.

Once defined, implement it within your company, then watch as the whole culture of your company begins to change for the better.



This guest blog was written by Jeff Alexander, president and CEO of Alexander’s, as part of the Chamber’s “From Our Board” guest blog series. 

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