Focus on the Why and the How will take care of itself
I remember when we were starting twenty five years ago, what is now Halo, we spent forever working out how we were going to do things, but very little thinking about why we were giving up our jobs to start out on our own.
With the wisdom gained from so long in the business I realise that had we focussed on why we were doing what we were doing, the process of starting the business would have been much easier. We could also have predicted and overcome many of the irritating issues we were faced with in the first few months.
Process is actually pretty straightforward, but the temptation is to spend far longer on that than the reasons the World needs your organisation. I reckon there are three questions which need to be answered in organisations to check they are on the right path. These questions have been honed by young people learning about business and asking me questions.
- What is the purpose of the organisation? I was asked this recently by a group of Year 11 students and with thirty eyes on you waiting for an answer it was no time for some slick elevator pitch. We told them that Halo works with people and organisations to help them be the best they can be, using insight and research; but there is more, which leads to the second question and the theme I used in the summer with the excellent graduate students I met.
- Why do you do this? What we have learnt from working with so many organisations over the years is that it is the ones that focus squarely on the “why” they do things that achieve more success and do so sustainably. One of our clients delivers public services and they do it with such a strong partnership approach that for their clients, many cannot feel the join between the two organisations. This has been a huge help during what has been a very difficult time for local authorities, the area in which our client works. When asked why they do what they do, our client is clear; they have skills which they can share, they can make life better for people and deliver services much better than anyone else. This level of belief drives them on, and creates energy to deliver more and better which is both efficient and self-sustaining.
- Are you rich? Again this was a question we were asked when teaching youngsters and it is brilliant at helping to focus on the “why” organisations do things. The immediate response is to think about financial riches, but this would mean not getting the most out of a very helpful question. Being rich is about having the freedom to perform, to deliver at the highest level possible using the full range of talents available and feeling a contribution has been made and is being rewarded. The temptation to spend too long on a material view of being rich is strong however by focussing on the why, rather than the how, and knowing that the things which are being done add to the strength of purpose for the organisation gives integrity to the offer, this adds to the value both of the organisation and the richness of its delivery.
If you want more questions like these, do volunteer to teach young people of any age about business and they will test your resolve and thought process in a myriad of ways.
Keeping the ‘How’ simple to make the ‘Why’ work
So the ‘why’ is sorted, but how can the ‘how’ be simplified to make it work with a new order of why? This is what we have seen from the successful people and organisations we work with:
- Keep management flat and relevant, ensure communication lines to the top are as open and productive as possible
- Measure the why in a clear, regular and straightforward way, sharing the results with everyone as quickly and honestly as possible
- Check for ‘buy-in’ on the why and keep talking about it
Get in touch
This is the time to make a difference. If you want to talk about how your organisation, or just your part of the organisation can use this thinking to start identifying and then measuring the benefits of the ‘why’ of what you do in order to become better, more efficient and to enjoy what you do even more, then please do get in touch.