Looking for our “why”. Finding our “why”. Using our “why”
Turning a hobby into a profession – my friends and I (Markus Stauffiger) were able to fulfill this dream by founding 4eyes 15 years ago. Suddenly we could pay our bills from what we loved to do. However, this wonderful fact also brought with it some challenges, as only later became apparent. Some of them, I’ll be honest, we only recently faced.
Somehow energy was drained. The projects just seemed to string together, all somehow resembling each other. The fun and the passion were gone. The old dream was only: work.
In addition to the daily routine, there was a lack of reflection, a critical examination of the big picture: What are we actually doing all day long? Why are we not much further along on certain points than we were 10 years ago? And, perhaps most importantly: where do we want to go in the first place?
In addition to the philosophical thoughts, there were also the entrepreneurial ones: Why, for example, did we not manage to generate enough revenue with our top people to give us the freedom to invest in a larger idea of our own?
Over the years, we had always set our sights on something, but never made the big leaps. Everyday life was always lively enough for us not to work on it “right now”. We had many ideas, but for some reason we rarely did anything with them. A wonderful example of “Ideas are nothing, execution is everything.”
So our first step was reflection. There was no shortage of buzzwords and consultants: purpose, why, mission, and many more. I decided to use Simon Sinek’s “Why” or Golden Circle approach, which I also used personally to work my way through this process.
Sinek says people are inspired by a sense of purpose (or “Why”), and that this should come first when communicating, before “How” and “What”. Sinek calls this triad the golden circle, a diagram of a bullseye (or concentric circles or onion diagram) with “Why” in the innermost circle (representing people’s motives or purposes), surrounded by a ring labelled “How” (representing people’s processes or methods), enclosed in a ring labelled “What” (representing results or outcomes). He speculates about the biological factors behind this structure, such as the limbic system.
So the first step was to think about: Why do we do what we do? What exactly do we enjoy about it? What are we proud of? What is not fun? What did we enjoy doing, but is missing now? Why are we doing all this?
I had decided not to lead the development myself. Our coach Markus Selzer took over this task. This way I am simply part of the group, can contribute my views and ideas without being determinative. To better expose my inputs to critical discussion.
We are a group of software developers and digitization experts, used to abstracting real things, developing new ideas based on existing situations. Not all of us find it easy to deal with “meta” issues.
It’s important to me that the entire team participates in this process. Our people have been with us for over 10 years on average, and the “quiet” opinions are just as important and bring other aspects and perspectives to the table.
After the full-day workshop, the question of “why” continued to occupy us for several weeks. Coffee and lunch breaks and sometimes even half afternoons we dealt with this question among ourselves intensively, critically and with motivation.
It quickly became clear that we are proud of the projects that create a positive impact. Solutions that support people in their everyday lives and help their organizations to develop. That the personal environment in which these projects are created is important to us, that we see ourselves as part of the project, even if it is “just” an assignment. Or to summarize:
Co-Creating Positive Impact
We live this statement, it shows what drives us and helps us make decisions.
It’s not perfect, a little generic perhaps. But I understand it as a snapshot, our first experience with the search for “Why?”. We will continue to question ourselves in the future, and again. – And so the slogan will evolve along with us. The important thing is: internally, we know what we mean by it after the intensive process of debate.
Now a little more than a year has passed. The process has helped us to focus our communications. Among other things, we use the why to decide whether a project or partner is a good fit for us.
In the meantime, I am convinced that we all need more than mere business goals. We need an awareness of why we should be motivated to sit at the computer in the morning and spend most of the day there. Why are we doing all this? Where do we want to go? What is the best way for us to get there?
Then it was a matter of determining the “how.” That went a lot easier thanks to addressing the “why.” But more on that in a later article.
What about your “why?” What is your drive? Not an easy question, I know!