No doubt you’ve heard of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why TedX talks or his books, but did you know that the origins of The 9 Whys are the work of Dr. Gary Sanchez of the Why Institute? In the slim chance you haven’t heard of either speaker, it’s a construct of 9 motivations that most people identify with as their primary ‘purpose’ in life.
The 9 Whys (simplified):
- To contribute to a greater cause, to add value
- To create relationships based on trust
- To make sense out of complex things
- To find a better way of doing things
- To do things the right way
- To challenge the status quo with new thinking
- To seek mastery and understanding
- To seek clarity
- To simplify
Proponents of this system of identifying motivations share a belief that these are all learned responses, otherwise known as biases. Meaning, that your thinking has been reinforced over a lifetime of experiences to form a preference for one motivator over the others.
Applying this thinking to what we do as marketers suggests that people arrive on our doorsteps consciously or subconsciously seeking confirmation that we – or our businesses – match their why and thus are a “fit” or not, qualified or not.
View all of the posts in our Cognitive Biases in marketing series.
Leading With Your Why
9 Whys advocates support leading with your Why in both business and personal life, convinced that sharing your motivation is integral to transparent communication which is of itself trust-building. Makes perfect sense actually… in an all-life-is-super-rosy context. But, what happens when you lump in a bit of real life?
Do we automatically adjust for circumstance? Or are we suppressing our Why?
Apparently, a huge percentage of us don’t like our jobs (entrepreneurs included). Is that because our bosses subscribe to a different Why? What happens when your spouse has a different Why? What if – given your Why is formed from life experiences – our Why were to change over time as we grow and experience new things? Plausible, I imagine.
Can different Whys get along?
Can an individual focussed on simplification be motivated by a higher cause? I don’t see why not. Do I have to pick just one? Would you pick just one? I’m curious… how do you express your Why?
Ed note: I’m always interested in understanding human behaviour. Individual prospect life stage and personal motivators factor into Kayak’s marketing persona identification workshops. Curious about how we apply behaviour to marketing campaigns?