I was recently very taken with some work that I saw and read by American marketing and leadership guru Simon Sinek. His name and presentations hadn’t been on my radar at all until a kind friend pointed showed me one of his TED presentation videos. His message – as per the title of his book – was simple: “Start with Why”! His concept of the “Golden Circle”, built around Why, How and lastly What, makes huge sense to me.
If you know your why, if you know your reason then you have a compelling reason for an organisation or a life. The Why for a person and an organisation is unique. And people buy into that purpose.
Sinek observes that, too often as organisations, we focus on the What, the advantages of our product, service, features plus benefits and not enough on Why we do what we do. He observes that most companies talk from the “outside – in”, in other words they talk first about their products. Whereas inspired organisations and leaders always act and think “inside-out”, focusing on their purpose and why they exist. He concludes that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
I have sat in countless big business gatherings where that organisation was trying to work out what its mission is. It tends to very quickly zone in on shareholder returns and the like, which of course is a goal for the organisation not its mission. And then it gets blurred with Vision. For large public companies, it is extremely hard to define its mission. The reason that that company came into existence has been lost way back in history and in many cases no longer has any relevance to its current activity. And then of course when its people don’t understand why they are there – other than making a tonne of money for someone else – then leadership and motivation is really on the line.
I suddenly understood part of the magic of Paradise Rescued and the reason that its story calls up so much passion. Our mission (our “why”) is straightforward and clear: to maintain the rural heritage of our village, sustain its culture and way of life – and produce fine wine for export. And it is front and centre of our web site home page. It provides a sound logical and passionate reason for what we do. Furthermore it is at the heart of everything we do; it is naturally at the centre of the “Golden Circle”.
It is an important lesson for us and other organisations. No matter how big our Vision may grow over time, our Mission – our Why – must remain firmly grounded in our roots and provide reason to both our daily activity and long term goals.
It all starts with Why!