Have you ever wondered why two companies — similar in size, staff talent, infrastructure, market base, etc. achieve very different results? Or why two individuals—with almost the same paper qualifications, experience, resources and challenges, etc. accomplish disparate levels of success?
Part of the answer can be summarized in one word: Purpose – or in my case “Why.”
I have given this topic quite a lot of thought in recent months particularly after watching a presentation by Simon Sinek over at TED. Sinek developed a simple yet profound model he calls “The Golden Circle” which explains how inspirational leaders and companies achieve sustainable breakthrough success (while others don’t).
As someone who has always challenged the status quo, pushed the limits and determined to live , love and work outside the “norm” I found it quite astonishing that I had never applied this concept to my own company and corporate culture. Although I may have lived life by my own personal “why statement” I had significant difficulty expressing why anyone should care about WhyZoom Media.
After watching Simon’s talk I realized I was running WhyZoom very much like Dell rather than Apple .. profitable yet uninspired.
In February 2011, I decided to rethink my definition of success for WhyZoom and in doing so we discovered our why .. and I was able to define mine. This simple yet powerful concept has revolutionized the other two components of our “Golden Circle” … meaning the how and what we do here at WhyZoom Media.
We are now a smaller, happier, passionate, boutique web development company determined to help companies cultivate, implement and manage their “Why Statements.” You can read more about our core philosophy and personal why statements here but in a nutshell it boils down to inspiration.
Now I cannot take credit for this concept of “Why.” The golden circle is 100% Simon and “Why” has been taught in MBA programs for years. I would encourage you to visit Simon’s site sometime and believe every leader should spend some time at TED. What we have done at WhyZoom Media is simply develop a strategy around these concepts and in doing so find ourselves as well as our clients.. inspired!
Starting With Why
According to Sinek, everyone knows What they do. Web Development Companies provide a multitude of design, programming, SEO and other services whereas individuals may perform testing, graphic arts, administrative or other roles. These are the tasks or services most easily observable by other people.
Some people know How they do what they do. A Web Development Company might, for example, develop a unique selling proposition (USP) of “developing your site for free provided you use their inexpensive hosting” or “We will give you a free ipod if you fill out these 10 surveys.”
However, Sinek asserts, very few people and organizations know Why they do what they do, i.e. their purpose, cause or belief—why the organization/individual exists in the first place.
WHAT → How → Why
Sinek argues that most people think, act and communicate from outside The Golden Circle inward, i.e. What → How → Why. Our experience certainly concurs with his view. Most Web Development Companies tend to focus their time and energies on What and How, leaving little room to properly consider Why.
An organization might have mission, vision and value statements but this doesn’t necessarily mean it has a Why—these statements are hollow if they fail to be reflected in the organizational leadership and culture.
Like organizations, many persons that I come across are keen to tell me what they do, show off their credentials, and/or emphasize their affiliation with some big-name organization(s). Don’t get me wrong—there is absolutely nothing wrong about communicating the things you do (especially if you do them well) or how you do them—but oftentimes I don’t get a good feel for what drives people, what makes them get out of bed every morning (if anything), what makes them tick. Their life purpose remains some fuzzy amorphous thing.
WHY → How → What
The inspired leaders and organizations work from the inside out, i.e. Why → How → What. Their starting point is a core belief/cause/purpose which transcends everything that they do—including How and What.
Sinek offers a scientific rationale for this phenomenon: the part of the human brain responsible for decision making and behavior responds to the inside-out (and not the outside-in) communication approach.
My thoughts on this matter are more empirically based than neuroscientific. People who have a sense of purpose are passionate about their work, take calculated risks, act with conviction, and are more productive. They are innovative in problem solving and resilient in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Their enthusiasm is not easily emulated by others but, if present, is often contagious. There is usually no need to ask them Why they do what they do because it is self-evident.
It’s not hard to see why organizations and people who start with Why have the potential to be incredibly successful.
And this is what we do here at WhyZoom Media…
Inspire Brands Through Three Simple Letters … Why!