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?