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Is ‘why’​ a dirty word?

Whilst there are a number of common traits and approaches of leading CEO’s, we’ve noticed all of them have ‘why’ as part of their ’frequently used’ tool kit. It seems to be the first question they ask in many circumstances but has ‘why’ become a dirty word in the evolution of the corporate world?

Through Day-2’s exposure to many facets of businesses, projects and strategies it seems the honest, engaging art of asking ‘why’ has fallen foul. Many occasions we find ourselves in a situation where inefficiencies exist on the grounds of a lack of common understanding, a lack of focus on outcomes and an incohesive vision of what good looks like. As we dig deeper and observe meetings and behaviours, two things become evident – few people ask ‘why’ and those that do are almost certainly in receipt of defensive responses that leave them being earmarked a relationship risk to the person or function they questioned. But why? – and that’s with no pun intended!

Well, it would appear that without intending it, many corporate cultures encourage their employees to follow the lead, not to engage or think of questioning it. Strategies are communicated in a way that the architect understands it, as opposed to taking the time to ensure that all parts of the company or programme have a common understanding. This makes delivering value very difficult, driving personal preservation behaviour rather than collaboration, which in turn only makes the asking of ‘why’ an increasingly dirty word.

So, do you truly understand the ‘why’ behind your daily activities? If not, maybe it’s time to ask. If you’re a leader; when was the last time you were asked ‘why’ by a member of your team?

If you don’t know or can’t remember, then don’t assume that’s because everyone has a clear understanding and shared belief, its probably got much deeper roots.

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