Monday 12 April 2021
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The WHY in Strategic Planning

This week we will consider what should form part of strategic sessions and the types of information that should be discussed. Simon Sinek is currently one of the world leaders of the so called “Why Movement” and some of you might have had exposure to his teachings and his books. He was one of the first people that explained the whole principle of “Why” in words that everybody could related to.
If you look at organisations most of the staff members are able to explain to you what the organisation does and how they do what they do. Very few of these members and even executives will however have an answer at hand when you ask him/her why they do what they do. The answer to this question of why is not to make money as most people will say. The result of business is profit and not the reason why.

The reason why this question of “Why” deems to be difficult is because it is influenced by a part of the human brain that works with feelings and emotions and not with words. That part of the brain can therefore not be influenced by marketing in the form of words or strategic plans in the form of word. It must be explained and influenced by feelings and believe.

Let’s use an example that Simon Sinek uses regularly. Let’s look at Apple. All of us know what Apple does, they make computers, well yes and no, since they also make other electronic equipment, which makes them more than just a computer manufacturer. All of us know that they make electronic equipment that are easy to use and looks nice, the how. What most people do not know is why they do it. To find the why one will need to look at who started apple and the culture of apple as a business.

Apple has always challenged the status quo of the markets that they are in. They never did anything like the rest of their market. Apple always wanted to make something easier and nicer than the rest. The people that started Apple lived like this and they lived this example to their staff and that created the culture at Apple that still exists today. Apple challenges the norms and the status quo and that is “Why” they do what they do. Everybody that buys from apple and are willing to stand in long ques for nights on end to get access to their latest product believes what they believe.
If you want to be successful in business and even in live at large then you will need to find your “Why”, both as a person and as a business.

The “Why” in any business should be lived and breathed by the executives or owners and that will then entice the staff to follow their lead. By living the “Why” the business culture will be created and people will feel that they belong and they will start believing what you believe.

In most businesses there are some form of why in existence, it might just not be very well defined or consistently applied. That is why it is important for a strategic plan to include a discussion about the “Why” and also include a description of the “Why”. It will however not make any difference in the business if this “Why” is not lived by the senior members of staff and or owners as an example for the remaining staff members. Remember the “Why” cannot be influenced by words and can only be influenced by feelings and believes. The “Why” must become the culture of the business.

When the “Why” has been established it will influence how you do business in everything you do. It will influence the way that you recruit staff, who you recruit and what your requirements for recruitment are. It will influence the vision of the business. It will influence how members of staff work together and how they deal with conflict.

It will influence the choices in suppliers since you will want to do business with people that believe what you believe. It will influence how you deal with customers and how customers feels when they have done business with you. If customers and suppliers can see and feel your business culture, they will want to come back if they feel that they can associate with said culture. You will not always be able to satisfy everybody in this regard. Some people may not feel comfortable in your culture, but that does not make it wrong or mean that you should change it. As long as the people that do not feel comfortable are the exceptions and not the rule.

If we want to really make a difference in Namibia and for Namibia we should all start by determining what is our “Why” in life. The “Why” should also go wider than profit and business and should include people and our surroundings. If we can create a “Why”, business culture, in Namibia that people can relate to and feel comfortable with then we can take Namibia to the next level. One must however be willing to move outside of your comfort zone and be willing to compromise.

What is your “Why” for yourself and for your business? Do the business or employer that you work for have a “Why” that you believe in? Have you ever sat down and thought about your “Why”? Don’t you think it might be time to?

Hennie Gous
[email protected]

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