Finding the WHY

Craig Nenke discusses The Why Initiative, an exploration of, and a commitment to, the purpose behind what we do, as individuals and as a company.

©iStock.com/GlobalStock 

©iStock.com/GlobalStock 

We regularly assist our clients in taking a long, hard look at their business with a view to consistent improvement. So it made a lot of sense to look at our own, with the same goal in mind. That is, to gain a real insight into our organisation and how we might challenge some long standing beliefs about what we do.

It began with the what, the who, the how. What actually made the difference, was the WHY.

Led by our Melbourne team, we have developed 'The Why Initiative'. This is an exploration of, and a commitment to, the purpose behind what we do, as individuals and as a company.

The author, speaker and leadership consultant, Simon Sinek now quite famously said ‘I knew what I did and I knew how I did it but I couldn’t tell you why. I realised I had to answer that question if I was to find balance.’

We decided to apply this to our own process of discovery and implementation. This one question ‘why do we do what we do?’ gave power to the individual response and created genuine insight into possibilities for the future in a number of key areas.

The Why Initiative was launched in March 2015 but the journey began a year earlier with some words on a white board.

The words were written in response to a challenging meeting within the leadership team. While the usual phrases were being bandied about – ‘project plans’, ‘implementing strategies’, ‘hard messages’ – I took up the marker and wrote ‘fun’ ‘passion’ ‘heart’.

I got quite emotional, which is unusual for me, but we all felt we needed a different approach.

Everyone in that meeting knew the importance of making real connections, with each other and with our clients, but this was about connecting with what drove us to come to work every day.

A group of six people formed to explore ideas and work on The Why. This began with the heartening exercise of asking each consultant their personal Why. As well as encouraging participants to go deeper into their reasons for being at UXC Consulting, this increased the feeling of collaboration and the idea that everyone can have a voice.

The initiative then became one of focusing hard, and deliberately, on one Why statement.

As all big questions do, this encouraged great, robust debate over the ensuing months.

The Why Initiative has raised awareness and passion within the organisation. Our people are inspired by why they do their job, not only how they do it.

Settling on one Why statement proved to be impossible, so it was decided to run with three.

Why do we do what we do?

  • To realise our amazing potential
  • To give value and be valued
  • To help our customers achieve success

This initiative has helped clarify our reason for being and the engagement of our people in achieving these determinations can’t be overestimated. Everyone who took part in The Why Initiative has connected with the emotional and intuitive side of their characters in a way that has shaped the entire culture.

We have learned from each other and value what we’ve learned.

Evidence suggests staff retention has increased and existing clients are engaging with an even more genuine, positive approach.

The Why Initiative has made its way into the other states and is starting to show big increases in staff engagement. We have incorporated ‘Why?’ into the recruitment and induction process, and remains committed to the process.

Fully understanding why we do business has helped reinforce how we do things. Its impact has been remarkably positive and can only benefit our clients and everyone who comes into contact with it.

About the Author

Craig Nenke is a Principal Consultant at CSC Consulting. He has been a business and IT professional for nearly 30 years and has been with CSC Consulting for five. Craig specialises in advising, educating and coaching clients and colleagues in project management, organisational change management and service management.