Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Why

Do you know the why of your organization?

I had the privilege of attending the Apple Leadership Summit in Singapore this past weekend.  The first keynote was from Simon Sinek.  He described the ordinary process of pitching ideas or products as starting with the what, progressing to the how, and the why last.  In his study of exceptional people and organizations, he found that they approach it backwards.  They start with the why.  The why inspires people to follow.  The why creates followers that might never engage with the what or the how.
For this inspiration to happen, Sinek says we must have clarity in the why.  It must be clear to us and communicated clearly.  We have to be consistent in the how, and lastly, we have to be authentic in the what.  Vision and communication must accompany each other with the why or else it won’t be conveyed to others effectively.  Do you have people in your organization that get the vision and communicate it well?  Identify them and give them opportunities to convey the why to your parents, faculty and students.  It doesn't matter what official "position" they have.  It is about tapping into the right people, regardless of the position.
When people share the why, a community develops and within the community, we have trust.  As we trust, we can collaborate.  The power of the community can be actualized.  When new faculty come to your school, do they know the why of your organization? Perhaps we should be more personal.  Is your presence transactional in that it just fills a spot in a job?  Do you know the why of your organization and does it motivate you to be a part of something bigger than yourself? 

Sinek says statistically, approximately 80% of people do not “love” their jobs.  He envisions a world where 80% of people “love” their job.  What would that do to your organization if people loved their jobs?  Tell them why.


  1. This reminds me of Jim Collin's book, Good to Great. One of his main premises is that organizations should focus more on getting the right people than on what needs to be done. Where I see a connection is, I would imagine that the right people would be those who are passionate about the why of the organization.
    Honestly I think my last two organizations have promoted the why well enough on the intellectual and spiritual sides, but perhaps should push it more on the emotional and social sides.

  2. Good connection to Collins. Getting the right people on the bus definitely ties to the why. It serves as a big motivator to an active contributor that goes above and beyond for the good of the community. Thanks for the comment and thoughts.