During the year plus of lockdown & restrictions, one thing I found is that it gave me a lot of time to be a bit introspective, contemplate the past and think about returning in the future as a stronger and more meaningful organisation. To people who know me this will come as no surprise – I do it a lot!
This has led to many changes within the business! A far more active, focussed approach to sustainability, system changes which help us to work how we want to work, new services added and allowing our creative side to come out.
The desire to lead our industry sector, to develop and change has always been there, and now more than ever is the time to look at everything you do as a business, how you do it, and consider whether it fits you now. But before you do that, most important to yourself and your customers, is to consider WHY you do what you do. I’m not talking about making money here, that’s a given in any commercial business. But why do you do it? What’s your raison d’etre?
I was pointed towards Simon Sinek by a colleague. Simon is a British / American author and motivational speaker who for the last decade has been helping organisations find their “Why”.
His TED talk in 2009 is the third most watched in the world.
I won’t go into the fine details – Simon does this far better than I could so just google his TED talk if you’re interested. But in essence he introduces a concept called the “Golden Circle” of What, How and Why. Every organisation in the world knows what they do, and how they do it – but the Why is often undefined unless you search it out. He draws parallels between Dell and Apple – one makes (perfectly good) computers, the other says “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently, by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers.” They started with the Why! Which would you rather buy? Who would you rather work for?
I was inspired by the simplicity of it all. Thinking from the inside out and then making sure that the How and the What always lead back to the Why. After all, I really believe that people don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it.
So how to apply this to our own business? I went and bought Simon’s book Find Your Why (£7.99 on Amazon), speed read it and re-designed the content into something that I could run over our next Senior Leadership Team meeting. The workshop is all based around sharing stories and experiences which appeal directly to the Limbic brain (I think of it as the heart of your brain) – which deals with feelings, emotions and strangely enough decision making, but has no language function! That’s the Neo-cortex which manages logic, analysis and language. The goal of the workshop is to end up with a “why statement” – not some glib corporate mission statement, but an honest, real reflection of why your organisation exists. There are three main stages –
Tell specific stories of when you’ve felt most proud to work for Conference Care.
There were many! After some time to think through them, everyone shared their stories and as a group we decided which of them resonated most strongly with us.
For each of our stories, what was the specific contribution we made to the lives of others?
We were looking here for the verbs or action phrases which best described what we did. Everything got noted down of course! The list included….. we planned, involved, listened, communicated, mentored, delivered, improved, adapted, innovated, learned, supported, created, inspired, adapted. Get it?!
In our stories, what did our contributions allow others to go on to do or be?
Thinking here about what our impact was on others…. we achieved goals, built confidence, celebrated success, developed skills, grew relationships, developed trust, inspired leaders, made people feel recognised and valued, and built belief in others.
Still with me? Believe me, the process of telling and breaking down these stories can be quite raw and emotional. Even I had a lump in my throat at one time! But from the verbs and impacts we could then start working on a why statement. Everyone took half an hour of walking time around the lovely grounds of Carden Park and then brought their ideas back to the team.
There were many similarities which we talked over, and shortly after that our Why Statement was born!
“To inspire, innovate & create change, helping people to reach their goals and share success”
…. and it’s true! The WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us. This statement now lies at the heart of everything we do as a business. But it doesn’t just happen overnight – having come up with our Why statement, we then went through this journey again with the entire team at Conference Care, sharing the stories which meant the most to us, many of which the wider team had been closely involved in.
We also introduced our Why Warrior award – every month a team member is recognised by others in the company for showing these very behaviours that underpin what we are. It’s a real achievement to be put forward as a Why Warrior, and because we have such exceptional people at Conference Care, we get a lot of nominations!
Our next meeting will be looking at more opportunities to create changes to what we do and how we do it, always coming back to the Why. The more you do it, the easier it gets!