If you get this wrong, worst scenario, your business gets boycotted. The product or service may not have changed but suddenly something comes out of the woodwork that undermines what we thought a business stood for. Remember Starbucks and the tax debacle? Same coffee, same cups, same staff but overnight their WHY was challenged and there was antipathy towards the brand.
This is not a new phenomenon, it’s always been there. Politicians for example are proactive with this and tend to do it very well; all of that hand shaking with the general public, ethical posturing so to be seen as associated with the right things (less crime, more schools, better NHS etc) it’s never really about what or how they are going to do it, it’s more about “like me, nice bloke with morals and standards…I just happen to be a politician, will I get your vote?”. And of course history shows us how great leaders did exactly the same with their army’s. “Your Country Needs You” was all about WHY, all very stirring stuff, hearts and minds as you might call it.
In business we are starting to see more and more recognition of this. Of course it was always there for the best businesses with longevity and strong leadership. Right now enough people understand the values of The John Lewis Partnership for it to be in ascendance whereas enough people are uncomfortable with Tesco’s for it to be in decline. The pace of change in business, the immediacy of news via instant media means that you, your leadership and your business can become very quickly exposed and undermined. Even more reason to be clear on your WHY. If that is solid, is understood by your employees, customers and other stakeholders then you will survive. If your business isn’t associated with trust, then you might as well pack up now.
This is a link to the famous Simon Sinek TED video. It’s all about WHY and I think it is a must see for all business owners. Even if you have seen it before, take a few minutes to immerse yourself in it again. Enjoy