I just watched this quite interesting talk by Simon Sinek.
Apart from having a great first name, he also has a very good point.
I have believed for a while now that a company has to have a strong central belief in order to be successful in the long term. At the end of the day, markets, products, practices, technologies and knowledge come in and out of fashion like shoes or music. But beliefs, or central dogmas last a lot, lot longer and can be adapted to suit the conditions they are in.
I realized recently that working for a company without a strong ‘why’ is much harder than working for one that has a purpose or a reason to be. Working for a company without a strong ‘why’ can often leave you feeling disenfranchised. Often in these circumstances the companies ‘why’ is short sighted and based purely on profit. As you try to apply a personal higher belief ‘why’ you end up misaligned to the rest of the business, feeling frustrated and bitter. Having a ‘why’ that appeals to people’s more altruistic emotions is key to making it work.
Simon Sinek talks about Apple’s why - “think different”, the ones I always admire in the tech space are; Google’s ‘why’ - “organizing the world’s information”, or Thoughtworks ‘why’ - “thought works”. These to me are powerful companies driven by even more powerful beliefs that allow them to forge ahead in a world crippled by short term capitalist thinking.
One of the things that attracted me to Nokia was its ‘why’. Which is “connecting people”, this is I feel a similarly powerful mantra, everyday I go into work, I can sit down and ask myself, how does what I do today help to connect people? Not so far away from the agile principles focused on communication and collaboration over contracts and negotiations (that are also printed out and stuck to the wall next to my desk).
So I’ll sum up with a question to you the reader :
How does what you do today align to your business’s core belief?