Simon Sinek proposes a simple and elegant model: the golden circle. When talking (as everybody today) about Apple, he challenges its competitors: “Apple is just another computer company… They have the same access to the same talents, the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media, then why is it that they seem to have something different?”. For him most of their competitors, on all fronts (computers, music, mobile phones and tablets) think, act & communicate the same way:
- What: they tend to communicate and (worse!) think of themselves in terms of products. What jumped onto the screen of anyone interested about the cooperation between Nokia and Microsoft? “We will cooperate on our smartphones!” Companies communicate, sell and build powerful and dangerous orthodoxies around what they sell (products, services and more recently experience). As Sinek suggests, this is easier, makes sense and is logical.
- How: sometimes, the company goes one step further and explains its how. How Dell manufactures its computers was part of their business narrative, how one would buy, transport and build its own furniture was the highlight of Ikea’s communication.
- Why: is totally forgotten… Why is the purpose (why are we in business), the dream (why do we do what we do), the relevance (why do we believe we deserve to be heard or successful). Why is our “Deep Intent”…
See now on this shortened version of the clip (1’54’’) the two examples given by Simon: one communicating from a “what” standpoint and the other from a “why” perspective. Which one speaks more? Who will you buy from? Who will you be at least interested in pursuing a conversation with?
It is to be noted in the full version of the TED 18 minutes presentation that Sinek also refers to the limbic (center of emotions and feelings such as trust and loyalty) and neo cortex (center of analytical competences and language) part of our brains (see our post on this). Following him, our ultimate decision making center resides in our limbic brain which is impermeable to words but fully receptive to signals of emotions and behaviours (this is where we have learned to rapidly “smell” other people’s authenticity or not). So for Sinek, talking and abusing from the what language, we connect with other people’s rational brain but fail to engage their limbic, decision making brain.
I haven’t checked all the sources from Simon Sinek but, should he be right, there are many of us, starting with our own Enablers Network brand, who have got it all wrong in the way they communicate, think and act about their business.
I would like to thank Cécile Canet-Teil (Communication-Rhodia) for having shared this inspiring clip with us!
A very tight schedule and busy week ahead in São-Paulo. Have a great week all
 Simon’s website is http://www.startwithwhy.com/