What has lockdown done for the meaning of business?
Working or being furloughed in an isolated and socially distanced world has been described as ‘existential’. But what is meant by that? And does it matter? It merits some reflection, especially as it is actually about meaning. To coin the Monty Python film title it is about ‘The Meaning of Life.’
When we experience extreme changes to our routine way of life and work we are left wondering - ‘What’s it all about?’, ‘What is the point of it all?’. Rather than let that undermine us we can use it to confirm, redefine or identify our purpose, its value and what we choose to do in life and business.
There are dozens of ways to go about this reflection from fuzzy logic to algorithmic. On the basis that getting there is more important than how you get there, in this article we wanted to share our methodology. Which has also informed our approach to developing propositions and brands.
It has come from a ‘mash-up’ of Freud’s model for the human psyche and Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with the why.’.
To keep focused during the process we have to remember this is about our existence – whether that be as a business or in our vocation.
Think of three concentric circles – outer, middle and centre. The outer is what we do. The middle is how we do it. The centre is why we do it.
By interrogating each of these and documenting our thoughts and debates, however random, we can stand back from them and then knit them into a pattern that makes emotional and logical sense. More importantly we find this also re-inspires, gives purpose and consistency to what we do.
Let’s go through an example to bring this to life. Imagine we have been engaged by company to work on a re-brand. At a glance the company I am thinking of does IT Services – as a description of what they do rather ‘me too’.
We would conduct qualitative research with the executive team, staff and clients interrogating the answers to the following questions: what do they do?; how do they do what they do in a different way to their competitors?; and, whydo they do it in that way?
What we might find, although it will be unique to every organisation, is that rather than an IT services company, what they do is ‘harness technology as a force for good’. That might be because how they do it is ‘by helping people make better friends with technology’. And both what they do and how they do it is driven by why they do it, which could be ‘wanting to have a positive impact on everyone they come into contact with’.
We end up with not just a difference, not just a valuable difference but a unique valuable difference. We bring genuine meaning and purpose to what we do. We have a way to motivate ourselves, retain our clients and attract our prospects.