Thursday, April 19, 2012

Not Just What or How, But Why

                In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been reading Dov Seidman’s How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything. It’s an excellent book, and the premise is captured in this passage:
Sustainable values are those that connect us deeply as humans. They include integrity, honesty, truth, humility, and hope. Sustainable values are therefore all about how, not how much.
   What makes an institution sustainable is not the scale and size it reaches, as the collapse of major financial institutions demonstrated. Rather, it’s how it does its business—how it relates to its employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, the environment, society, and future generation. (Kindle edition, loc 319)
On the surface, this seems like another way of advocating thoughtful brand management. That shortchanges Seidman’s work, though. He's advocating something much more integral and organic that that, which can become merely another strategy and connected tactics. That approach, argues Seidman, eventually will fall apart. Plenty of examples bear out that truth.
                The book provides plenty of prompts for reflection. As I’ve been considering his line of reasoning, I keep finding myself taking it one step further. The what still matters, and the how matters more than ever. But we can’t ever lose sight of the deepest why. Then the rest blossoms from that seed.
                And that would be a pretty good place for schools to begin as we do some hard thinking about how we do things.

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