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Finding Our Why

| James Riley |

As we grew as an organization, one thing that I realized was that, while I had a good idea, in my head, of why JNR Networks existed, I wasn’t doing a very good job of casting that vision to my team and our clients. As we set out on a journey to define the traditional business “Mission, Vision and Values”, we struggled. Some of this struggle was because we didn’t have the kind of clarity that we needed but some of the struggle was that we just couldn’t find a way to fit our ideas into that structure. At least not in a way that felt right, had the punch we wanted it to have and embodied what we wanted to say.

When we started this process, I had envisioned that, someday, I would write a type of “Manifesto” that would be a bit longer and would tell the story of our business, what we are about and how our Mission, Vision and Values tied everything together. In a somewhat desperate attempt, because of our struggle in writing the Mission, Vision and Values, I figured it might make sense to sit down and try writing the Manifesto in the hopes that we might be able to reverse-engineer from there to our Mission, Vision and Values.

As a start to the Manifesto, I realized that I needed to start with more of a statement that defined our Why as that would drive everything. In writing our why statement, I was heavily influenced by a video by Simon Sinek titled Start With Why along with his corresponding book that talks further about the topic. In keeping with this, I set out to build a bit of a “Why” statement to figure out WHY JNR Networks even existed. In defining our why, I asked “Why do I/we exist?” I found that it started with some statements of belief about how I saw the world and ended in a declaration of how I saw myself/my organization operating within that world view.

As the “Why” statement developed, I noticed that it lacked the definition of values that would be foundational to decisions that we made in the process of delivering on our vision. Next we sketched out a bunch of different values we had. As we distilled them down to core elements, we realized that there were only three core values that drove all of the other ones; integrity, impact and growth. (I’ve written about those in previous posts that you can view by clicking HERE.)

When I took the core values and tried to add statements after each to provide definition, the traditional way of defining values, I still struggled. The result was just flat and didn’t have the kind of connection that I really wanted to create. Following the previous model, I figured I’d revert to writing more of a narrative about the values and that might give me the content I wanted.

Out of all of this journey, we found that our “Why” and “Values” narratives delivered exactly what we wanted in both definition and impact. When we tried to reverse these into more traditional structures of Mission, Vision and Values, we were not able to get it to come out with the same kind of feel. As a result, we decided to stay with the two statements, our “Why” and our “Values” statements, that you can view by clicking HERE.

If you already have a clear definition of what you and your organization are about, great, stick with that and execute! If you don’t have anything, this is an absolutely critical step. If you are like us and you are struggling to either create the definition or connect with the definition you currently have, I encourage you to try this model.

If my journey is of any help to you, that is awesome! Let me know how it helps you and if you would ever like to chat as you walk through building this definition…either personally or in your organization. You can reach me by filling out our Contact Us Form