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Golden CircleI’ve just come across a guy called Simon Sinek and according to his Authors Biography on Amazon, he is described as an optimist, who spends his time teaching leaders and organizations in the subtle art of inspiring people. I added the words “art” and “subtle” as it really is the sort of teaching that has an effect of changing the way people think or approach the subjects of inspiration – which also has an effect on motivation.

The video on this page is from a 2009 TED talk and Simon cites examples of tech organizations and their products. Putting forward the argument that all the tech companies are essentially capable of producing quality products, but some become more successful than others. Why, for example, did Dell fail to find a market share when they introduced their hand-held personal organizers? Or Gateway Computers, well known in 2009 for producing quality computers and monitors. Why, is it that they failed to penetrate the flat-screened TV market?

The answer, according to Simon, is because they approach things from the wrong direction. The image above is called the Golden Circle and most people, including organizations, actually begin by asking “What?”, as in “what is this new product?”, or “what new new product can we launch because everyone knows us, we make quality products and so are guaranteed market-share”. We see this sort of thing all the time. “This new xyz product will increase profits”. That question covers the ‘what’ and ‘how’, but fails when it come to the ‘why’.

‘What’ and ‘how’ are very practical questions that can easily be debated, but ‘why’ can be more difficult to put into words. A desire for someone or something cannot always be easily explained, as it is a feeling.

Simons Golden Circle model shows that the biggest and most important question to address first is ‘Why?’. The world is full of companies selling similar products for similar prices and some are also known for a specific type of product. But Apple, although a computer company, is very successful with phones, tablets and music players. Apple is the company talked about as having successfully focused on the ‘why’ first.

This approach, however, is not just for large companies. As stated in the rest of his biography – “From members of Congress to foreign ambassadors, from small businesses to corporations like Microsoft and 3M, from Hollywood to the Pentagon, he has presented his ideas about the power of why. He has written two books, Leaders Eat Last and Start With Why and is quoted frequently by national publications.”

Both thoughtful and truly inspirational. I’ve now become one of Simon’s fans and will most likely buy his books.


Mike Flanagan