Freethinking’s People Practice Team recently embarked on an internal journey of reimagining ourselves, our offering and our positioning in the market. With the ever-changing environment and dynamic needs of our clients, it was time to ask ourselves…. ‘How do we work differently with our clients in a way that truly adds value to them, and creates the space for truly meaningful work for us as a team and as individuals?’
Through this process, we were given the opportunity to reflect on our purpose, capability and the reimaging of our client offering, resulting in a different, more creative approach.
Inspired by Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ framework, our team spent the first half of this year investing time in “understanding our personal why”.
Most companies communicate their ideas starting from the most concrete element: WHAT they do, followed by HOW they do it. However, most organisations can seldom articulate WHY they do what they do. Simon Sinek explains that the greatest leaders and organisations express themselves the opposite way by starting with WHY they do what they do.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. Moreover, what you do simply proves what you believe” – Simon Sinek.
STEP 1: UNDERSTANDING OUR INDIVIDUAL WHY’S
We started the journey by understanding our whys. While this may have taken some team members out of their comfort zone, it certainly pushed each of us to think deeper about the critical stories throughout our lives that have impacted us in one way or another.
An individual’s WHY is born from their past experiences; it’s the sum total of the lessons learned, the experiences had and the values that were adopted while growing up. Through a process of gathering stories and sharing them, each of us was able to draft and refine an individual WHY statement.
The most important element of this process is to recount old and new stories in your life that have had a significant impact on who we are today. In doing so, you will find that when you discover your why it will truly resonate with you – it will most likely be the quintessential ‘Aha’ moment!
STEP 2: DISCOVERING OUR TEAM’S WHY
The next step required the team to follow a similar process of getting in touch with stories and emotions, focussing on our various experiences at Freethinking and how they impacted our clients and us.
The essence for the WHY statement is achieved through what Simon Sinek calls “The three conversations”. These conversations are pretty simple, but not necessarily easy, as we were forced to find language to express how we felt.
- CONVERSATION 1: THE HUMAN DIFFERENCE – The discussion kicked off with storytelling, whereby the team shared specific stories of when they felt most proud to work for Freethinking. The stories captured what each felt the team stood for at its best.
- CONVERSATION 2: WHAT IS YOUR CONTRIBUTION? – In each of the stories, the team unpacked the specific contribution Freethinking had made to the lives of others, and as these were highlighted, clear themes began to emerge.
- CONVERSATION 3: WHAT IS YOUR IMPACT? – Taking the contributions into account, the team collectively discussed the impact of these contributions, i.e. what the contribution has allowed others, clients, Freethinkers etc. to achieve.
By combining the contribution and the impact, the team was then able to start crafting the WHY statement. Simon Sinek argues that a WHY statement is made up of a contribution (TO) and an impact (SO THAT).
TO _________ SO THAT _____________.
The WHY statement we arrived at is as follows: “To listen, build relationships and guide others to simplify and think differently so that they can better understand their reality and use this awareness to be more effective.”
It’s a great feeling when the team can see the why statement being drafted and it resonates with everyone in the room. It creates an energy of positivity and motivation – and offers confirmation that we share similar values and beliefs.
STEP 3: DEFINING OUR HOW AND WHAT
Once we had our WHY clearly defined, we could then complete the process of defining our HOW and WHAT collectively.
- HOW – Knowing our WHY informs the way in which we work with our clients. Having a clear understanding of what we believe in, and aligning with the core principles with which we want to work, helps us understand HOW we wish to work with our clients.
- WHAT – And finally, when the team knows HOW we want to work with our clients, it becomes easy to articulate WHAT we do.
Taking this unique approach to building our service offering has, to date, been an exciting journey for the team. Sharing our WHYs with our colleagues has undoubtedly brought about a sense of closeness which has improved collaboration and general engagement within the team.
Crafting what we do and how we choose to work has inspired us to start having different conversations with our clients. Sharing the personal Freethinking journey with our clients is helping us create authentic partnerships, ones in which we can really listen and truly understand our clients’ needs.
As we enter the second half of 2018, we look forward to seeing how “living our WHY” will shape the future of our work.