Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why Are We Doing What We Are Doing?

In a session at the Gap Miners a couple of weeks ago we were watching the Ten Success Tips from Simon Sinek. It ended with his big idea - Start With Why which has been a huge influence on me and many millions of others. The idea that people connect to we believe in, is a great idea to enhance communication - both to others and to ourselves. We spent a while trying to think about why we were working together as a team, what was it that would give them pride.

It started with the usual - for salary, for company's benefit, profit, customer satisfaction etc. Next session we took it further to see if we could discuss any social impact the work could leave behind. Since its a discount site was it possible that we were creating a fair society, a just society, were we creating a more efficient society by providing more bang for their money? I could connect to those values, that impact we were likely to leave on society - fairness, equality, justice - are all strong values that evoke strong emotions.

We carried the thought forward to the next session and probed deeper. This time I used a technique I learned in the book 'The Art of Creative Thinking' where the author asks them to jot down 100 ways. His thought was that the first forty would be normal expected stuff, then some interesting stuff and finally the most interesting stuff in the last 20%. Our class managed to get about 50.

When we ranked a soldier on some of the reasons - it showed up. A soldier who works for a salary, for self improvement, for his employer, or even to become the best soldier may not be as effective as a soldier who is fighting for the country. Given that the concept of a nation is rather abstract, like god or religion, but that's where the connections are the highest and touch the farthest. It appears that this is the space where the largest number of people are affected and that's why it becomes more challenging. Could we find a space where we are making a big difference to the society and the world? It was an interesting discussion.

Another example that came up was the one about the fastidious janitor who would keep the floor spotlessly clean. Amazed at his commitment to his job the CEO asks the man one day what he is driven by. He replies that when people walk into the building and on to the floor, they should all feel good and be inspired to do great work. He could push the impact of his work to the extreme and visualise how it could impact not just people in his office, but the work they do and how that would impact humanity.

Our why is always driven by a greater cause than us - mostly. If we are part of the one big whole, perhaps it is our innate nature to pay tribute to the whole and only then do we awaken and give our best. But as an idea it was an interesting exercise to find out why they were working.

In the end they came up with one line - 'To make people's lives affordable by giving them good deals'.

I asked them to write it down on a piece of paper and take it home and show it to the people who mattered - fathers, mothers, husbands and wives. That this is why they were away at work for 9 hours a day, six days a week. They wrote it down and said they would. Next week, the responses.

Interestingly while searching for universal values I came upon a site
which listed the

Most Basic Universal Values as
Life, Love, Happiness, Peace, Freedom, Safety, Intelligence, Respect, Equality, Justice, Nature and Human Health.

Most Universal Social Standards
Respect, Reliability, Equality, Justice, Peace, Freedom, Safety, Responsibility, Respect for nature

Most basic natural human virtues (corporate values)
Integrity, Friendliness (human), Empathy, Loyalty, Justice, Modesty, Respect for Nature, Responsibility-awareness, Realism, Humane idealism, Positive creativity and Intelligence

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