Focus on the Purpose, not the Product

Here is a link to an interesting video on “how great leaders inspire action:”

In this TedTalk, Simon Sinek argues that most companies operate by thinking about “what” they sell, to “how” they sell it, to “why” it matters to the customer. Sinek references law firms as operating in this traditional manner: First, a law firm says what they do (law), how they do it (with the best lawyers), and why they do it (to perform for clients).

Sinek argues, however, that companies that follow this traditional path of operations do not reach their full potential. Instead, the most successful companies operate to the inverse of this “Golden Circle,” and first plan the broader “why” purpose of the company, then the “how,” then the “what.”

To demonstrate this path in action, Sinek cites to Apple. Stepping into Apple’s shoes, he states: “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. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

By reversing the order of information, and starting with the “why” rather than the “what,” companies are able to reach more success by solidifying its overarching purpose. When the “how” and the “why” are set in stone, the “what”—the product—comes easily. For example, because Apple has solidified its mission, it can make a range of technological products successfully. It doesn’t matter whether Apple wants to sell computers, iPods, or headphones; all of their products are rooted in a broader purpose of simplicity and innovation, which appeals to the masses.

The overall theme can perhaps be summed up in one of Sinek’s lines: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy how you do it.”

His 18-minute TedTalk represents only a sliver of his work as a motivational speaker and marketing consultant. He launched a “Start With Why” leadership campaign specifically centered around the idea that people can inspire action if they focus on the “why.” Interestingly, these types of talks and leadership programs suggest that there are some entrepreneurial traits that can be learned, which ties into our previous class discussions.

Comments are closed.