Every morning, or whenever it is we wake up, another day of our lives starts. For some of us it is quite exciting — just think of all the things we could do today! For some it is another struggle, and some are quite content just to be alive and well.
We get up, do our morning routine — brush our teeth, wash our bodies, check our information channels, make plans, get dressed, eat food and start doing something we believe we must do. Each and every one of us has their reasons for doing so. But how often do we think of why exactly it is that we do what we do? What is it that drives us? Why do we get out of bed, leave our sanctuaries, and dive into the everlasting rapid stream of life?
Here, at Zajno, we’ve been working hard to help others create digital products. For most of our clients it’s a way to achieve fulfillment from their lives, a solution to their dilemma, and, of course, a path to the financial freedom to do what they ultimately want to do. It can be making others happy by giving, or making themselves happier by traveling, going to concerts, creating art, or anything else one can think of. We, humans, are indeed peculiar beings.
So, what’s the point?
As many other organizations, Zajno is here to make this world a better place. Not in a global way, of course, we simply can’t help everyone with what we do. It’s the impact of the digital products we create that might make bigger change, but this depends on numerous things and conditions, sometimes beyond our control.
Perspective clients who are in need of our services, have an expectation of a better life after our cooperation. What we do is supposed to help them succeed. We never really thought of why exactly we do this though. Why is it that we get out of our beds, go through the daily commute, come to our office and turn on our computers (as well as our brains after another cup of coffee, especially on Mondays).
I believe that the quest for the answers is as valuable as the answers themselves. Our journey to understand our clients’ “Why”, as well as our own, had given us a lot of experience — we researched a lot of various industries to be able to cater for the needs of people who these industries affect. We learned by making mistakes and at times failing miserably. We learned by succeeding, celebrating the feeling of accomplishment and smiles on our customers’ faces. We pretty much did anything it took to do our job well.
Quest for the answers is as valuable as the answers themselves.
But recently we realized that if someone asked us “Why do you do what you do?”. We wouldn’t be able to give a definite answer. Creating awesome digital products? Of course. Helping others succeed? Yes. Growing as humans and professionals? Totally. But what is the ultimate purpose that drives us? That fulfills us? That makes us feel inspired and motivated? Knowing the answer would help us stay on the right track and sharpen our focus. It would serve as a North Star to guide us through the mist of all the information that we perceive and all the uncertainties it can create.
I’ve come to learn that for every business, and person out there, it is absolutely important to understand their “Why”. Because if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. Because you cannot expect your team to get out of bed every day to do something without understanding how they can contribute to a better world. To do something less than that is foolish. By simply staying true to this ideal one can avoid losing your way.
So, how do you do it?
I started researching this matter and stumbled upon a great book by Patrick Lencioni called “The Advantage” (Special thanks to Alicja Colon and the Focus Lab team for the hook up). In his book, Patrick states that in order to become a healthy organization you need to have answers to 6 critical questions that I shall list below.
1. Why do we exist?
2. How do we behave?
3. What do we do?
4. How will we succeed?
5. What is important now?
6. Who must do what?
It might sound easy, but if you think about it, it is quite hard to answer these questions right away. Which is perfectly OK, as the clarity process does and should take time. In this article, I’d like to concentrate on the first question.
The answer to “Why” has to be completely idealistic.
The author believes that it is important for the answer to be completely idealistic. Everyone in an organization needs to know that at the core of what they do lies something greater. “We want to create digital products that will shape the future of how people interact with mediums” sounds pretty cool, but why do we want people to do so? What lies beyond? Literally, how does this contribute to a better world? The answer has to be based on the real motivations of the people who founded the organization, and not something that just sounds cool on paper. This has to be in no way related to marketing, although having an answer might really facilitate getting more business in the long run.
Categories of purpose
So, how do we go about defining our core purpose as an organization? In his book, Patrick describes several categories of purpose, and each of those can be valid. Identifying which one of those fits your organization better can be very helpful in sharpening your focus. Let’s take a closer look.
- Customer. When everything a given organization does is aimed at serving the needs of their customers. That if a customer has a need — it’s organization’s obligation to fulfill it. A good example provided in the book is the department store Nordstrom. It’s not about the fashion, although they must be good at it to succeed. It is simply about giving their customers what they are looking for.
- Industry. This category is about being really into a certain industry. Pretty much, about passion towards what one does. This is how we started Zajno. We were and are really passionate about design, and everything we did was initially aimed at adding to that industry, helping it develop and inspire others to do great things. Over the course of time, though, this ceased to be the only “Why” of ours, as we are starting to find even more meaning in what we do.
- Greater cause. This is not necessarily about what an organization does, but more about something it is connected to. This could be anything. To give an example, everything that I do personally is aimed at connecting people and erasing misunderstanding between them — especially when it comes to different cultures, continents. Facilitating collective enlightenment. I strongly believe that if we, people, could relate to each other more, if we wanted to actually listen to each other and understand, there would be way less evil and unnecessary aggression in this world.
- Community. This category is about serving the people in a certain geographical location. This can be creating a design school for educating aspiring designers, or hosting stand up comedy shows to entertain the community and make people a little more relaxed and happy.
- Employees. This category of purpose is all about serving the people who are a part of your organization. In his book Patrick gives an example of a company he worked with that paved driveways. When he asked the CEO about his reasons for founding the company, at first he was giving him answers like “Making driving safer for everyone” or “Making it possible to park vehicles”, which was pretty uninspiring. But after a while the CEO had this epiphany — he said that the main reason for starting the company was about helping first-generation Americans find good jobs, so they could live their lives the way they wanted. It’s the freedom I referred to in the beginning of the article. He said that even if the paving market vanished, they would easily switch to painting or carpentry, as long as this would help his employees.
- Wealth. This one is about generating wealth for the owners. Some companies have owners that see their employees solely as a means of income. I’m really proud to say that Zajno is not this type of organization, and I personally believe that having a purpose like this is shallow. Unless there’s a greater master-plan that comes after.
Understanding which category of purpose your organization’s “Why” falls within will help you answer the first question in a more comprehensive way. Another thing that is important to understand is that we don’t need to think of our “Why” as a differentiator. Really, there can be companies of absolutely different industries that believe in the same cause. The goal is not to stand out, but to understand what you really believe in and stick to it.
Where we stand
Currently at Zajno we are going through the process of strengthening our focus by understanding our “Why” more clearly. Me and my studio partner Sasha, who is also a creative director here at Zajno, constantly think and discuss this. Once we have a clear answer, we will do everything it takes to support what we believe in.
What about you? Do you believe you have an answer to this question? Please share your thoughts in comments.
I will keep you updated on our developments as well as sharing more insights about what we’ve learned along our journey here at Zajno. Feel free to drop us a line, we love to connect and share experiences.
P.S.: Zajno also just launched our Weekly Music Playlist on Spotify! We thought it would be awesome to share the music that inspires us. Feel free to follow us on Spotify as well and stay tuned for some sweet tunes!
P.P.S.: — Leave a comment and tell us how we can improve our storytelling for next time, ask us a question, arrange to meet up, or make a suggestion for a follow up piece.
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