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Hybrid working: planning for the future
Hybrid working: planning for the future

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3.1 Discovering your ‘Why’

For those who hold a leadership position, creating an environment in which the people in your charge feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves is your responsibility as a leader.

(Sinek et al. 2017)

Being a leader or manager is challenging, especially to ensure that our teams, departments, or organisations understand the mission they are working for and their purpose in an organisation.

Simon Sinek doesn’t claim to have invented asking ‘why’, he codified it when he noticed that companies, organisations, and people throughout history with similar backgrounds and purposes perform so differently; only some seem to defy the average with greater success.

Knowing your ‘Why’ is equally important at a function, team, or project level, and it can be especially powerful if your project’s ‘Why’ is directly supporting the organisations ‘Why’. Sinek (2011) calls this a ‘Nested WHY’.

It can be a useful approach before starting future’s planning, to ensure that those involved understand the organisational ‘Why’ but also the ‘why’ for the futures planning you intend to do. In order to help bring this process to life, we take you through the stages for running a workshop to discover your ‘Why’.

Finding the fundamental purpose

Finding the ‘real why’ can be challenging but if you ask the question at least five times you should be able to get to the fundamental purpose.

An organisation, team or individual can be guided through the discovery of their ‘Why’ by following a simple three-stage process, according to Sinek et al. (2017). This is explained in the figure and table below:

Described image
Figure 12 What’s your ‘Why?’ – three stage process
Table 3 What’s your ‘Why?’ – three stage process
Stage Action
Stage 1 – Gather stories and share them. Look into your past to find meaningful, emotionally charged stories to help connect with or find your ‘Why’.
Stage 2 – Identifying your themes. Begin to recognise emerging themes from your stories in order to pull together your ‘Why’ into something cohesive.
Stage 3 – Draft and refine your ‘Why’ statement Produce a simple and clear single sentence, which is actionable, focused on how you contribute to others, and what Sinek calls ‘evergreen’ (applicable to everything you do).

While you can do this as an individual, bringing others into the conversation can help to consider your ‘Why’ through a different lens, and help you define it more effectively. This could be done in a workshop. As you read through the following suggested approach to running the workshop, consider how you might use this for discovering your ‘Why’ with your team or organisation. The output from doing this activity should provide you with valuable insights and a better understanding of your ‘Why’. You can then use this to develop outputs you are responsible for, such as reports or project/programme proposals.