“Understanding why was more interesting than understanding who. The story of why things are the way they are is heartbreakingly beautiful.”
Ok. This is a lot about some harsh business truth (a good idea shouldn’t be implemented if it isnt a good fit for a business) as well as a different business perspective on a different “Why” and why this perspective matters.
I admit. I chafe a little on the Simon Sinek “people buy your Why” thought mostly because I believe it is the wrong “Why” question. His Why is a slightly misguided and oft misused Purpose Why. My Why gets to the core of what makes a business a business – its soul not its Purpose. By the way. This ‘soul’ can be an amalgamation of some wacky adopted bad things (beliefs, process, systems) and good things (loyalty, heart, integrity, beliefs).
Regardless. Yeah. I am one of those wacky business people who will listen for hours to stories about why things are the way they are at a business. Even wackier? I am not one of those business people who act surprised when I hear all the “why it is what it is” stories.
Many people want to hear about the people.
Many people want to hear about the ideas … or even what someone thinks or what they want.
Many people want to let others talk about whatever they want to talk about.
All of that is well and good. But me? Give me the story of “why the voodoo you do is done this way.”
I am actually surprised more businesses don’t ask that question or are as curious about it. I am surprised because if you know the ‘why’ you at least have a fighting chance of offering something doable & constructive. In fact. While many business people shake their heads over all the crazy “why shit happens” stories the truth is … well … that crazy stuff actually offers the truth. The ‘why’ gives us reality. Bad reality sometimes? Sure. But reality nonetheless.
Far too often we offer business folk offer solutions, and many times really good solutions, which are simply non practical for the business and people we are offering it to. Crazy as it sounds … not every business can implement a good idea. In fact trying to implement a good idea in a business whose “why it is” doesn’t align with the idea more often than not creates a nightmare idea.
A business is a business. It comes with all the warts and positives gained throughout the years.
To be clear.
Yes. I like to hear the objective.
Yes. I absolutely love to hear the vision <assuming someone actually has one>.
But when push comes to shove while all that stuff is fine and dandy, but if you don’t know why things are the way they are or why that objective hasn’t been attained yet or why that vision has been sitting on some shelf collecting dust for several years, you are screwed. You are screwed because “why things are the way they are”, 99% of the time, have a reason. You may not like the reason, or reasons, but it is a reflection of reality.
It doesn’t mean you cannot change some of the whys.
It doesn’t mean you can’t jump, side step or tunnel under some of the whys.
But why shit is the way it is reflects the realities of that particular business. And you either have to face that fact or ignore at your own peril. Ignoring it most likely means whatever great idea you are offering that business is doomed.
I cannot tell you how many really good ideas I have seen die because they just didn’t take into account the ‘why things are the way they are’ in that business. It is the amateur business consultant who suggests that ‘with the proper internal alignment initiative we can get this idea up & running to the benefit of the business’ for a businesses. They are amateurs because they assume you can reshape all the “why it is” to make it fit the idea.
I don’t think I am that smart, but suffice it to say I am fairly sure most experienced business people can see good solutions for any business fairly quickly once they get up to speed on that business and its situation.
Most people can do that.
But solutions are not all round pegs and businesses are not all round holes. I cannot tell you how many really good solutions I have tossed in the trash simply because they would never be implemented by the business it would have been really good for. Suffice it to say … a lot.
I would note that the opening quote resonated with me mostly because of the last thing I just wrote.
It is heartbreaking to sit in some business meeting and you have the great solution right there at your fingertips and you know after listening to the ‘why things are the way they are’ stories you have to leave it right there on the table and shove it somewhere into some unlabeled folder.
What helps me get over it?
Maddening or not I find the ‘why things are the way they are’ stories beautiful — beautifully tragic, beautifully fortunate, beautifully doomed and beautifully hopeful. And I think it helps me better find the “beautiful solution.”
In the end … business is almost always a beautiful struggle between “why it is what it is” and “what I would like to do.”
All that said.
Yes. Some “why shit is done this way” should be dismantled. But for today, at this time and on this topic, people should sit back and ponder the thought most businesses need to get shit done now and not dismantle shit now & get shit done later. Ponder that because many of us who get businesses “unstuck” (consultants) cannot afford to offer unusable great ideas to functionally dysfunctional (companies with quirks) businesses. Our job is to elevate them. Sometimes this means holding a great idea that is right for their business until you can figure out how to make the organization right for the idea. Until then? You develop a beautiful idea matched to the beauty of the organization that exists.