Motivate your staff with a “Why Project”

February 1, 2014

Why do we do it this way? Why don’t we move into that market? Why doesn’t everybody care about this business? Why did I start this business? Why isn’t everybody as motivated as me?


I speak to many business owners and their staff and the “why” word is one of the least used.  Lots of “what do you want me to do?”, “how do I do that?”, “who’s meant to do that?”, “when are we meant to fit that in?”.

Yet asking “why” could start to release the energies of a workforce and motivate it to do great things.  Why’s that? you may be asking.  Well read the thoughts of two world experts on inspiration and motivation:

Simon Sinek: “if we all take responsibility to start with WHY and inspire others to do the same, then, together, we can change the world.” (

Dan Pink: “the most deeply motivated people – not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied – hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.” (

Inspire and Motivate

If you are a boss or business owner you have the chance to inspire and motivate your staff if you engage with them to understand the purpose of your business – WHY the business exists? Pink has recently encouraged business to set up a department of WHY.  That might sound fanciful in these austere times so why not consider a WHY PROJECT?

I have recently finished a WHY PROJECT with a client  – a business of 15 people.  We have raised the level of excitement, desire to improve the business and go for new customers and markets.  Staff lead daily monitoring of progress and drive the business at a pace that never existed.

What is a WHY PROJECT?

  • intense discussion about the purpose of the business – using the following 5 questions;
    • what legacy do you want to leave behind at this business?
    • what do you like about working here?
    • why does this business exist?
    • what is this business like when it’s at its best?
    • why do you work here?
  • converting that discussion into clear and precise meaning  – words and statements;
  • regular referral to those words and statements as part of team communication.

So think about asking WHY more often.

  • Peter D Allen

    A powerful set of questions- love it!

  • Phil Pond

    What I find most interesting about this idea Peter is that it can be applied to any size, or type of business. Not many business tools allow that to be done without perhaps raising feelings of ‘foolishness’ in very small teams, or thoughts of ‘tedious’ in larger outfits. A good thought to pose thanks for sharing it.

    • Thanks Phil, I think the questions are so basic and meaningful for everybody, either on their own or in a group. It just works!

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