Sign #2 – A Compelling “This is Why We are In Existence” Understanding – (12 Vital Signs of Organizational Health)


If we’re starting with the wrong questions, if we don’t understand the cause, then even the right answers will always steer us wrong…
Great leaders are able to inspire people to act.  Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained.
Simon Sinek — Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

HowThe key to long-term, sustained success does not lie in breaking all the rules; it lies in transcending the rules and harnessing the power of values.
“The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be.”  (Socrates).
Dov Seidman — how:  Why HOW we Do Anything Means Everything…In Business (and in Life)

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In my introductory post, 12 Vital signs of Organizational Health, I listed the 12 signs.  Here is sign #2:

A healthy organization has a compelling “this is why we are in existence” understanding.

If you want this in simple crass terms, you could say this:  “we are in existence to sell ________________.”  But a lot of companies exist “to sell ___________.”  There has to be something deeper, more substantive, something that is a “this gets me out of bed because it makes a difference to people in a way that matters” reason to be in business.

And that deeper reason has to be so obvious, and so pervasive, that every one in the company knows it, endorses it, believes it…lives it.  And when the company gets their “why” right, the customers understand it, and appreciate it nearly as much as the people in the company.

And this deeper reason, this “why,” has to be so deep and so strong that the leader, and the members of the leadership team, never waver from this central value, this central concern — this “why.”

Now, there are a ton of challenges awaiting the person and company that want to see this become reality.  It is almost as though the forces of the universe are marshaled against companies and organizations seeking to remember and live up to their why.

Among those forces is this one: the mere need for survival.  Sometimes, the bills have to be paid, and the pressure mounts to just do something, anything, to get the money in…  But for the company that can successfully resist the temptation to abandon their why, even as they scramble to stay afloat, the long-term payoff is great.

So, let’s put it simply.  If the people in your company do not understand the why behind the what and the how, it’s time to go back to square one.  Companies skip this at their peril.

So, here is vital sign #2 –

A healthy organization has a compelling “this is why we are in existence” understanding.

An unhealthy one doesn’t.

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Here is a graphic from Simon Sinek worth pondering:

The Golden Circle - Sinek

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You can purchase my synopsis of How by Dov Seidman, with handout + audio, at our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  (Slight warning – this is not one of our more recent  synopses.  The handout is pretty plain looking, and the audio quality may not be quite as good as more recent synopses.  But, it is understandable, and I think you will find it useful).

I have not presented a synopsis of Start with Why.  But if you have never seen the video by Mr. Sinek in which he makes the case to “start with why,”  it is worth watching.  It was his 2010 TED Talk.  Click here to watch the video.

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