After my blog about the Bionic Company, the most common response was, “Great Char. But how the hell do I translate what I do into a worldwide view of WHY and what do you mean, communicate?”
Let’s talk about your WHY
And then let’s chat about a few ways you can proselytize it throughout your organisation.
Almost sixty years ago, John F. Kennedy decided the Americans needed to lead ‘space exploration’. An extensive budget was drawn up, an organization called NASA was put in charge, and almost overnight a sub-culture devoted to space exploration was born.
Now, ‘space exploration’ sounds very boring and furthermore, the term tells us NOTHING.
But add in a dash of emotion
Listen to the ring in ‘Put a man on the moon’. Suddenly everything becomes tangible, doesn’t it?
‘Putting a man on the moon’ was the WHY and it became the tagline, the rallying cry and the big hairy audacious goal the entire country got behind. That phrase was emotional, had a concrete and measurable objective and its simplicity made it super easy for anyone to identify and remember.
An over-used question, still in use today, is “so, what is it you do?” The exciting thing at NASA was that every single employee said, “I am putting a man on the moon.”
I don’t think any of us can NOT imagine either the astronauts or the NASA senior leaders saying —- “I am putting a man on the moon.” Because that seems like a very normal thing for them to say, in their specific jobs, right?
How normal is it for a janitor, a parking lot attendant or even a receptionist to quote the company WHY statement or tag line or even know the big hairy audacious goal? I would wager that for most companies, even today, very abnormal. Not at NASA.
The impact on the employees
Every single employee at NASA knew his/her job was to ‘Put a man on the moon.’ And that fact alone coloured how they all viewed their job, their responsibilities and their daily activities. ‘Putting a man on the moon’ not only kept all the employees focussed and committed on the goal, that phrase also branded all of NASA, its activities and its reputation.
I share this story to set up how you too can do a WHY in your own world. Let me give you five different examples.
Are you in the business of:
- Delighting the senses of 1,000,000 by the end of 2025? (This might be something used by restaurants, caterers, creatives, wineries, and even foodies.)
- Eliminating plastics by 2030? (This has an infinite amount of applications to an infinite number of groups.)
- Creating 100 smiles every day? (This might be something for dentists, ice cream parlours, and even entertainment shows.)
- Supporting every single family that darkens our door? (This could be the blanket statement for so many non-profit/social organizations as well as churches, funeral homes and even credit unions or banks.)
- Extending your health; enriching your life? (Imagine if hospitals, pharma, and even water services used this.)
Clearly articulating the big WHY is an exercise every progressive organization puts itself thru. Because the WHY or big hairy audacious goal is succinctly and emotionally articulated. And because it removes the focus from pedalling an individual product or service to making an impact.
Making it real
The next two steps are ensuring that each person in the organization understands that big dream of impacting the world. And then helping them embrace the concept that they are an integral part of it. Because human beings want and need to be part of something big.
As a senior business leader or owner of your organization, one of your responsibilities is to champion that WHY statement at every single discussion with your team members and colleagues. For example, at any time of day, you could ask them about their progress (like, how many smiles have YOU created today). You could start each meeting off with a statistic or a success moment. You could share a recent piece of learning and ask for advice on how to make it better for next time.
Of course, never overlook all the opportunities that present themselves daily. High five and thank everyone for helping move your organization closer to its goal.
The best part of all this
When you the leader take the time to talk about your why, your tagline or rallying cry, so does your team. This has the impact of spreading like a contagious viral infection. Everyone is focussed and committed. As soon as that happens, believe me, the real magic begins.
Interested in discussing your particular situation? Reach out.