Prioritizing the Who in the age of automation
Simon Sinek argues that we should start with Why. In the age of automation, we think we should prioritize the Who, from which everything else stems.
2020 is the fourth year of business for our agency. It is the year we decided to make our business manifesto public, inspired by the new Davos Manifesto of the World Economic Forum. Looking back, we should have done this much earlier. But before embarking on our entrepreneurial journey, we somewhat naïvely did what most businesses do: we identified our mission, our vision, and our values. We wrote a “classic” business plan. We thought we had it all covered.
However, in today’s world: the age of the fourth industrial revolution, where industries are changing faster than ever, we realized that it was essential to deepen our vision and values, and to drastically change our ways of functioning as a team. Nowadays, careers are much more fluid than before, with employees coming and going. Co-opetition, outsourcing, distributed and multicultural teams have become the new working model for us. We have adopted the way we operate according to the goals of our team.
But to be efficient, it was necessary for us to be clear about why we wanted to open a business in the first place. We could spend time actually doing a lot of other interesting things like working in academia, working for nonprofits or charities, or being employed by a company instead of running one. Having clarified our Why, we then examine How we were going to solve the problems we identified, and What we were going to do to bring in different revenue streams. We followed more or less the template given by Simon Sinek. Having done this, we thought we had it all, once again.
Putting all of this together was giving shape to our manifesto. It was useful for us, as founders, to have this on paper. We soon realized that this was also helpful to share it with our employees, our clients, and our suppliers. The entire ecosystem created by our business — our community — was now empowered to be involved with us on a much deeper level. We were sharing common values and wanted to solve some bigger problems we identified together. Beyond the fact that we “sell consulting services” or “manage projects” for our clients, we became actors of a common story with them. So we adapted Sinek’s golden circle by adding the missing Who piece, not only at the center of everything we do and in the context of the Where and When (See Michel Bachmann, 2018. Before you start with Who), but also at every step of what we are doing. While Simon Sinek argues that we should start with Why. We think we should prioritize the Who.
This made a lot of sense to us. From the beginning, our desire was to first think in terms of our community; even before thinking in terms of our mission, goals, and vision. That’s why we coined the new term Conexkt, which eventually became the name of our business. We define it as: “bringing together a group of thoughtful people to launch innovative projects”. Our assumption was — and still is — that if we were to bring a bunch of innovators and entrepreneurs with different stories and backgrounds, skills and expertise, but who agree on the fundamentals of our values, we would have the tools and unique expertise to tackle a lot of significant issues for our clients. On top of that, we would also be able to launch new projects, businesses, and services that would come out of our shared value-system. And so we did.
We found the process of writing a business manifesto transformative not only for us as founders but also for all stakeholders involved. We would highly encourage any businesses to do so; while keeping in mind that ultimately a manifesto is meant for your community. In the age of automation, let us not forget to prioritize the Who, from which everything else stems!