Many of us has played this childhood game before called Simon Says. The rules of the game is simple. One person is designated Simon, giving instructions to the rest of the members. The only rule is players must only obey instructions that starts with “Simon Says”.
Simon seems bossy but his instructions to get us to “Ask Why” is actually food for thought.
Simon O. Sinek is an author, speaker, and consultant who writes on leadership and management. One of his popular TED talks “Start with Why” states that people and organisation with a clear reasons of Why they do what they do has an influencing power. And the influence they exerts – conscious or subconscious- gains them a following of like-minded people – employees, customers, followers. This then seems an important question with the impact on the decisions t we make for our organisation.
Why you started your organisation
Most business owners started their entrepreneurial journey to fulfil a dream, vision and passion. You wanted to create something different, something special. People you meet along the way agrees with what you are doing and they join you on your path towards building your business. Your employees buys into your dream of where you want to grow your business and they are clocking in those extra hours to fulfil the common vision. Your customers agree with your company values and do not mind paying the extra few dollars to be seen as part of your brand.
One of the hardest parts of growing quickly is staying true to your original intent and vision. New people, increasing product lines and the demands from every aspect of business operations can all lead to a slow, dangerous shift away from what made your business special to begin with. This is when your need to go back to your basics to guide you to remain true to what you set out to build.
Lego was formed in the 1930s by philanthropist Ole Kirk Kristiansen. His vision was to make it a cultivator of creative play and contribute to healthy child development. This idea was enshrined within the company till this day. In fact, even Lego’s name translated from Danish means “play well”. This global enterprise has not always been this bright and rosy. In fact, it almost went bankrupt in 2003. Reason being they went along with trends, distracted by competition and focus on design rather than their root of inspiring creativity. Luckily before all was gone, they went back to their most ardent supporters – Adults fans of Lego (AFOLs), and seek their help to rediscover Play! In fact, one of its fan Mark Stafford was recruited as a Designer within the firm. Through a series of revamp within the organisation, and actively engaging their most loyal fans to contribute to product ideas, Lego today, is the largest toy company in the world.
Why stay authentic to your brand
At the mention of Harley Davidson, one thinks of the 2-wheeled driving machine, rugged leather jacket riders and the unmistakable roaring sound of its engine. The brand Harley Davidson is the embodiment of ‘freedom’, ‘individualism’, ‘rebellion’, and the ‘American way’. Brand strategist often quotes Harley fans as fiercely loyal for good reasons. Harley riders not only own the bike, they wear the t-shirt, the hat and even the brand’s logo tattoo! That is the epitome of brand loyalty – inking it onto your skin – clearly more emotional than rational.
Harley riders relates so faithfully to Harley Davidson not just as a means of transportation, but they have bought into the lifestyle and dream it represents. Richard F. Teerlink, Harley’s chairman and former chief executive, said in an interview. “It’s not hardware; it is a lifestyle, an emotional attachment.”
Harley has successfully marketed this emotion across a broad consumer population with a growing legion of upscale white-collared customers joining the Harley community to fulfil a lifelong dream. You would not be faulted to think that Harley would have a sophisticated Branding and Marketing team. That does not seem to be. In fact, Harley shut down its branding department in 1995 because all of it’s employees takes much personal responsibility for the brand. As Harley’s marketing vice president, Joanne M. Bischmann puts it, “We are all brand ambassadors”.
This pure passion from founder, employees and customers stems from being clear of their vision and original intent. They stood firm on their belief and always went back to the big question of “Why” they do what they do. It goes all the way back to why your organisation was founded in the first place. Why does it exits? What do you stand for? If your employees and customers believes what you believe, they will put up likely stay with you for a very long time.
So the next time you make a business decision, have a chat with Simon