Shared Why – „The intersection of why“

Meaning or Purpose is still the most discussed factor of successful collaboration.  The definition of Purpose is sometimes very heterogeneous. We want to change that and establish a model of the ‘Shared Why’.

The famous video of the TED talk “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek has now been clicked over 6 million times and has set an incredible movement in motion. It clearly shows why people are happier when they find a purpose in their work which most likely can be found when “making a difference” with their own work. This is undoubtedly true – but the question managers ask themselves in everyday life is: What does this mean for each individual employee?

The answer is simple and complex at the same time, because purpose is highly individual and depends on the respective values, passions and perspectives. Yet it seemed so simple: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks, but teach them to long for the endless vastness of the sea,” emphasized Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French writer who wrote the little prince. Of course, this well-known example remains true, but at the same time it shows only a part of the entire picture.

In fact, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s statement merely describes the overarching purpose of an organization. We at MONDAY.ROCKS call it the COMPANY PURPOSE – others speak of “Big Purpose” or “Company Why”.  This means that every company exists for a certain reason and pursues a certain vision. At the same time each employee has his own personal why (PERSONAL PURPOSE), which is the starting point for the intersection to the why of the company.  

By discovering our PERSONAL PURPOSE, discussing it with others and comparing it with the COMPANY PURPOSE, some people already find their ‘Shared Why’ – what their own values, passions and perspectives have in common with the vision of the company.

But to understand what drives most people to do the best for their business on a daily basis, we need to look at another crucial level, especially for medium and large companies: the TEAM PURPOSE. This “missing link” in our “Shared Why Model” shows both the positioning of the team in the overall organisation and the purpose of each individual in his or her immediate environment. This acknowledges the studies, which rightly describe the appreciation and the personal role in our immediate professional environment as central drivers for purpose.

This is especially an opportunity for the numerous companies that do not (yet) present a particularly inspiring COMPANY PURPOSE or for team leaders who cannot directly influence it. In the ‘Shared Why Model’, the only decisive factor is the highest possible intersection between PERSONAL PURPOSE on the one hand and TEAM and COMPANY PURPOSE on the other. Whether the high intersection results from the overarching framework of action (as with Greenpeace, SpaceX or Ecosia) or from the immediate team environment is only of secondary importance. If there is a sufficiently large intersection to one of the two areas, we speak of ‘Shared Why’ and a real experience of MONDAY.ROCKS.

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