Every great “why” needs a great “how”

By David Friedman, CEO/Founder

I was watching a ballgame recently when a commercial came on for the NicoDerm patch.  The ad showed a father happily playing with his infant daughter and talking about why he quit smoking.  The theme of the ad was captured in this tagline: “Every great why needs a great how.”

When I saw that line, it got me thinking about how this relates to culture and inspiring our teams.  In Simon Sinek’s wildly popular TED talk and best-selling book, Start with Why, he suggests that people are more likely to act when they’re inspired by a compelling “why.”  In other words, when people feel a sense of purpose, they’ll be more motivated, they’ll be more persistent, and they’ll go the extra mile to achieve great things.  While this has been true forever, it’s clearly even more important for the Millennial Generation.   Much has been written about the high value this generation places on finding meaning in their work, above and beyond simply getting a paycheck.

But while inspiration is important to drive extraordinary performance, is it enough?  Notice that Sinek said “start” with why.  He didn’t say end there!  The point of the NicoDerm ad is to suggest that wanting to quit smoking so that you can live a long and healthy life with your new daughter is great (that’s the “why”), but it’s not enough.  Without an equally great “how,” it’s incredibly difficult to sustain the motivation.

In my experience, we face the same challenge regarding working on our culture.  I’ve seen so many leadership teams spend offsite retreats trying to write vision and mission statements they hope will inspire their team members, but then they fail to connect the dots between the inspiration and day-to-day work.  They fail to “operationalize” their inspiration with a meaningful “how.”

When I created our Fundamentals in my first company, RSI, and we began to practice them repeatedly through weekly rituals, I was providing our team with the practical mechanism to ensure that we could achieve our purpose.  For the first time, there was a structure in place that could help us to maintain our focus.  Without that mechanism, our purpose would have been little more than a slogan.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve been able to put more and more “meat on the bones” of that mechanism.  We call it the Fundamentals System™, and it now includes an entire suite of tools, products, and methodologies that enable companies to live their purpose in a way that’s simple, practical, and sustainable.  We’ve provided the “how.”

If you’d like to learn more about supporting your great “why” with a great “how,” just give us a call or shoot us an email.