Why Start With Why?
I’ve got a healthy skepticism of the constant barrage of best-selling business books claiming to have a secret ingredient. I’ve read many such books, and I try to collect wisdom and understanding from each , even ones I don’t like.
Many of these business books are promoting their own version of a mission, vision, and values statement. While some seem like hype, a lot have something to offer and some are even insightful. But, only one has resonated with me soundly — author Simon Sinek’s secret ingredient — asking why, how, and what in his book Start with Why.
The book presents the seemingly simplistic concept of business leaders beginning their work by asking, first and foremost, why?
Why do you do your work?
Let’s get one thing straight. A why is not descriptive of the work your company does. The work your company does is your what, but your what has to start with your why. Having a why creates employees who are more motivated, and a company mission that both defined and flexible. Look at it this way: if you work for a consumer technology company whose only purpose is to build one kind of technology, what happens when the market moves on to another kind of technology?
If your company has a clear why, such as bringing affordable technology to customers in order to empower everyday people, then your company could make any kind of technology, and so long as it is affordable, the company will continue to do well. If your company’s only why is to make mp3 players, then when people stop buying mp3 players, you’re in a bad position. A why that is properly articulated can have a wide range of what’s and how’s that fit with it.
The Ceterus leadership team read Start With Why, and decided to apply the why, how, what methodology to our existing purpose and values.
Ceterus Why, How, and What
Here’s how we’ve answered the model’s questions, and how we’re using the model to help transform us.
Why does Ceterus exist? To empower entrepreneurs. (It’s not to make money — money is a result of our why.)
And then we ask, how do we empower entrepreneurs? We provide solutions to our customers using the latest technologies to take complex and cumbersome tasks off of their plates. Our team of professionals do this by upholding our core values of results, accuracy, independence, efficiency, and flexibility.
And lastly, what do we offer to entrepreneurs? We provide integrated financial reporting, bookkeeping, and accounting solutions.
This is the basic outline of our why, how, and what. This series of posts on our why, how, and what will dig deeper into why we do what we do, how our values guide our company, what we deliver to our customers as well as the things we don’t do.