Monday, February 19, 2018

Start With Why: This Is Not Opinion, This Is Biology (Chapter 4 Summary)

This book summary series is taken from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). Your curiosity and knowledge are infinite, but your time is not. Read this summary – and you’ll be inspired!

The power of WHY is not opinion, it’s biology
(Simon Sinek)

Sinek pointed that “our need to belong is not rational, but it is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures.” It is a feeling we get when those around us share our values and beliefs. When we feel like we belong we feel connected and we feel safe. As humans we crave the feeling and we seek it out. No matter where we go, we trust those with whom we are able to perceive common values or beliefs. In the same way, we want to be around people and companies who are like us and share our beliefs. “When a company clearly communicates their WHY and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include those products or brands in our lives.” This is not because they are better, but because markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear. Simon believes that we are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe.  

Part of communicating what leaders value and believe is in how they make decisions. When good leaders thought that a certain decision feels right, they have a hard time explaining why they did what they did. Decision-making and the ability to explain those decisions exist in different parts of the brain. This is the famous gut decision, and it happens in the limbic brain. The reason gut decisions feel right is because the limbic brain also controls our feelings. This limbic brain is smart and often knows the right thing to do. It is our inability to verbalize the reasons that may cause us to doubt ourselves or trust the empirical evidence when our gut tells us not to.

Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” This is the genius of great leadership. Great leaders and organizations are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things we should never think of asking for. In summary, Sinek writes, “Great leaders are those who trust their guts. They are those who understand the art before science, they win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.” Products with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe (think of Apple Inc. and their loyal customers). If a company does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the company does. And when that happens, manipulations that rely on price, features, service or quality became the primary currency of differentiation.

The Power of WHY is Not Opinion, It’s Biology

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Start With Why: The Golden Circle (Chapter 3 Summary)

This book summary series is taken from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). Your curiosity and knowledge is infinite, but your time is not. Read this summary – and you’ll be inspired!

The Golden Circle finds order and predictability in human behaviour. Put simply, it helps us understand why we do what we do.

WHAT: What do you do? [“Every organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. These are products they sell or services they offer.”]

HOW: How do you do what you do? [“Some organization know HOW they do It. these are the things that make them special or set them apart from their competitors.”]

WHY: Why do you do what you do? What’s the purpose? [“Very few organization know WHY they do it. WHY is not about making money. That’s a result. WHY is a purpose, cause or belief. It’s the very reason your organization exists.”]

Simon Sinek explains that most companies communicate on WHAT they do; from the outside to the inside of the golden circle. They know exactly what product or service they offer and what features it has. Some organizations might even know HOW they do it. This might be the Unique Selling Proposition (USP). But very few know WHY they do what they do. “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

By starting with why and communicating from the inside out, organizations can inspire people to take action. For example, Apple Inc. company:

Apple if they were like everyone else:

We make great computers.
They are beautiful designed, simple to use and user-friendly.
Want to buy one?

How Apple actually communicate:

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

Apple simply doesn’t reverse the order of information, their message starts with WHY, a purpose, cause or belief that has nothing to do with WHAT they do. What they do – the products that they make, from computers to small electronics – no longer serves as the reason to buy, they serve as the tangible proof of their cause. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Most organizations, however, use the tangible features and benefits to build a rational argument for why their company, product or idea is better than another. Companies try to sell us WHAT they do, but we buy WHY they do it. When communicating from the inside and out, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHAT serve as the tangible proof of that belief. Consumers and investors are completely at ease with Apple offering so many different products in so many categories. It’s not WHAT Apple does that distinguishes them. It is WHY they do it. Their products give life to their cause and everything they do works to demonstrate their WHY.

Apples competitors lost their cause, they turned from companies with a cause into a company that sold products. And when that happens, price, quality, service and features become the primary currency to motivate a purchase decision. At that point a company and its products have become commodities. Simon assured that a company doesn’t have to have to best product, they just need to be good or very good. Better or best is a relative comparison. Sinek argued, “Without first understanding of WHY, the comparison itself is of no value on the decision maker.”

If a customer feels inspired rather than manipulated to buy a product, they will be able to verbalize the reasons why they think what they bought is better. It is the cause that is represented by the company, brand, product or person that inspires loyalty (see previous article). So, instead of asking “WHAT should we do to compete?” the question must be asked is, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?

From Inside Out: Ask WHY, then How, then WHAT. Always Start with WHY.

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