#ChallengeTheProcess: Embrace the why

woman raising her hand to ask a question

Me: Jacob, can you put your shoes on, please?

Jacob: Why?

Me: Because you can’t go outside and play in bare feet.

Jacob: Why?

Me: Because you might hurt them.

Jacob: Why?

Me: *head explodes*


This sort of conversation happens regularly in our house. My son is four years old. And whilst I know this is his way of learning, it’s hard to continually welcome his curiosity.

Yet this exchange of words with my little boy got me thinking. Organisations can challenge the process by taking a leaf out of Jacob’s book and embracing the ‘why’ instead of shying away from it.

The power of why

Motivating other people to take action isn’t the easiest thing to do. It takes time, effort and trust.

But it is possible. Think of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. He didn’t tell his followers he had a plan to change the way society treated Black people. Instead, he cultivated an image of a better world. His ‘I had a dream’ speech spoke to his followers on a personal level. His vision of the future was also their vision. He made people believe in why they should follow him during the American civil rights movement.

Or consider brands like Harley Davidson. There are people who walk around with Harley Davidson logos tattooed on their bodies when they don’t own one of their motorbikes. Why? Harley Davidson has always stayed true to what they believe. The logo doesn’t just represent a company, it embodies a belief. People go under the needle asking for the Harley Davidson logo because to them, it stands for the American dream, freedom and strength.

So, what do Martin Luther King Jr. and Harley Davidson have in common? When they communicate, they focus on the ‘why’.

The author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek coined the phrase, “people don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it”. And this is the golden nugget of wisdom you should embrace when communicating with your people.

Connecting the ‘why’ when you’re communicating

Sinek uses a framework called the Golden Circle. At the centre of the circle is ‘Why’, followed by ‘How’ and then ‘What’. 

It’s so easy when we’re communicating messages to focus on ‘What’ we’re doing and ‘How’ we’re doing it. But when it comes to challenging the process, our attention should be on the ‘Why’. This is how you make that leap to the next level.

three circles one smaller within the other with the question "why" in the center, "how" in the middle and "what" in the biggest circle. Together they are the golden circle

Ask the following question the next time you launch a share plan or pension scheme: “why am I inviting people to participate?”

It’s the answer to this question that you should aim to highlight in your messages:

“We value your input and skills and we want you to stay with us.”

“We want you to feel invested in our business so that we can work together to achieve our goals.”

“Your financial wellbeing is important to us. If we can help you build a stronger financial future, you’re more likely to feel healthier and happier.”

You’ll find people are more likely to engage with the process – the how and the what – if they know what the end goal is, the ‘why’.

Using the ‘why’ for feedback

You can also use ‘why’ at the other end of the campaign process. When you’ve finished communicating about a particular initiative and want to analyse its success, assign ‘why’ to the feedback process. 

Were the share plan engagement numbers high or low? Why? 

There are lots of reasons why people choose to get involved in share plans, and just as many for not participating. Perhaps your offering wasn’t the right thing for them at the time of launch. Perhaps they have financial constraints that means it’s not affordable.

Or perhaps they didn’t follow you on the journey, because they didn’t engage with your message. If so, why? What were your communications like? Did you bring out the “why”, so they could join you on your journey? Or was the focus on the “how” and the “what”?

Let us help you figure out the ‘why’ next time you communicate with your people. Contact us and start challenging the process today.

phone Call us on 020 7420 1984 or send us a message

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


    Get unmissable insights


    Everything you need to know about communicating share plans and rewards, delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up to never miss out on the latest industry news and insights. Delivered monthly, unsubscribe at any time.