Fix the ‘Why?’

When Steve Jobs wanted his team to shave off a few seconds of booting time for the new Macintosh he didn’t bother them with what they could do, or how they should go about it, instead he devised a unique pitch for his engineering team -

“You know, I’ve been thinking about it. How many people are going to be using the Macintosh? A million? No, more than that. In a few years, I bet five million people will be booting up their Macintoshes at least once a day.

Well, let’s say you can shave 10 seconds off of the boot time. Multiply that by five million users and thats 50 million seconds, every single day. Over a year, that’s probably dozens of lifetimes. So if you make it boot ten seconds faster, you’ve saved a dozen lives. That’s really worth it, don’t you think?”

He fixed the ‘why’.

He gave them a higher purpose for an other wise mundane task. He lifted their ambition. They were going to save lives. Not just optimize booting time.

Similarly the strongest, most enduring ideas are built to answer the ‘why’ question.

Amazon exists to enable freedom of choice & discovery.

Coca-cola exists to inspire moments of happiness.

IBM exists to build a smarter planet.

There is a purpose. A higher ideal to strive for. Purpose simplifies your story, purpose scales, it rallies your troops, it goes upstream and as this study suggests it works magic on the markets too.

Brands with a higher purpose performed better over a 10 year period

This is one of my favourite ways to look for a brand idea. Find a higher purpose.

Fix the why before you get to the what and the how.

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