I want to share with you a two-minute Kaizen-based approach that's called the 5 Whys exercise. It's a brilliant approach to help you to delve a little deeper into your company purpose.
5 Whys is often used by more operational types, to get to a root cause of a problem in production and is highly recommended when problem-solving in teams.
A few years ago, I started using the 5 Whys in purpose-finding workshops where I helped people to uncover their company purpose, allowing them to tell stories that connect and resonate.
I've found it really useful for getting past the linear and local answers that can be churned out when we're asked 'Why are we doing this?'.
So, how does it work? It's very simple and will take no more than two minutes.
Grab a piece of paper and write the question at the top, 'Why does this company exist?'
Set a timer to two minutes and write the answer that first comes. Then, looking at your answer, ask 'Why?'
Repeat another 4 times.
If you get stuck or resistant, try writing the answer in your opposite hand - this will usually quiet the critical mind that can creep in with all sorts of excuses and barriers.
When you reach the fifth why you may have hit on the deeper reason of your existence. I have found over the past 8 years doing this that most people start fairly function-based and end with a desire to help other people at some level (and usually at large scale).
In fact, I'm yet to find anyone that doesn't have this calling to help somewhere on their list, which tells me that when we dig deeper, we get to uncover our innate need to help and connect with other human beings.
Which is, let's face it, what the world needs businesses to lead with.
Not only is this exercise very useful for connecting you to a deeper meaning and the essence of your 'why', it can be very helpful in aligning your messaging and communications to create a story that people can really believe in and become part of.
I invite you to take two minutes this week to channel your inner two-year-old curiosity and ask the 5 Whys. It may pleasantly surprise you (or perhaps scare you a little) and give you some inspiration for the year ahead.
If you feel inspired to share the experience with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I'd love to hear where the '5 whys' has taken you.