Million Dollar BillReading more from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. In a previous post I reflected on the affect of different WHYs. I liked this quote about the confusion around money and it’s clear definition of what a WHY is.

WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money—that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? (location 574 on Kindle).

This is interesting to consider in light of the regular approach. The WHY for adding new features to a product is often “so we can make more money” instead of, “so we can provide a better customer experience and help more people” or “because this will totally help further our mission!”

The difference is subtle. You could argue that the order doesn’t matter–if a company is making more money from adding a new feature, isn’t it likely that feature is helping people which is why they’re buying it?

I see two things happening here. First, the customer becomes something to extract money from (instead of someone to genuinely help because helping people is truly your mission). This leaks out in small subconscious ways that can’t always be controlled. People can tell.

Second, not everyone on a product team is inspired to take action at the thought of a company making more money (little of which they will receive) and because the feedback loop is too muddled. I feel good when I sense I’m helping someone directly and when I’m doing things aligned with my WHY.