Does your legal department need a ‘why’; a purpose; a sense of inspiration? "We’re lawyers, we don’t do that sort of stuff" you might exclaim. But thinking in this way has impressive precedents; purpose is now determined to be a significant factor in business success. It’s also not likely to go away as millennials are much more motivated by the purpose and vision of an organization than prior generations. In the legal profession, with the rise of legal operations and the focus on HOW legal departments work not just WHAT they do, doesn’t a focus on WHY also make sense? Increasingly we see that lawyers cannot be immune to the pressure of business imperatives, so need to also consider business thinking, the same of course goes for law firms. But what does this mean in practice?
‘Start with why’ as a business theory achieved cultural currency first as a TED talk, then a book and now a consulting business developed by marketing executive, Simon Sinek. Sinek started out working for ad agencies but formed his own business in the early 2000s. His 2009 TED talk at a TEDX event in Puget Sound went viral. In this the key ideas of ‘start with why’ were outlined.
Sinek’s theory aims to look at why certain individuals or businesses are more successful than others. For Sinek it’s not just about market share but about influence. Sinek often returns to Apple as a key example. Whilst Apple’s overall market share is not as great as many of its competitors its influence is much greater in shaping the use and cultural significance of electronic devices.