Summarised by Keith Thompson
Why do you do what you do? This is the key question Simon Sinek asks in his bestselling book. In this book, Sinek addresses what many leaders and managers within organisations I think are missing. “Start with Why” addresses what is essentially an organisation’s purpose, why does it exist, what need does it fulfil or what problem does it solve?
Sinek talks about great people such as Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs and the Wright brothers in trying to discover what, in a range of disparate people, made then so successful, innovative and influential.
Sinek became famous or infamous through a 20-minute TED Talk (video below) on the same subject. The TED Talk essentially covers the content of the book. However, the book has many more examples and stories such as Sam Walton of Walmart, Herb Kellerman of South West Airlines and Bill Gates of Microsoft. At the expense of becoming repetitive, all these examples drive home his key point – Start with Why.
The initial parts of the book maintain a remarkable similarity to the TED talk, but the examples in the latter portion show how great leaders change the face of their companies by focusing on “Why”.
Sinek introduces a tool that he has developed called the Golden Circle. This tool effectively centres around Purpose or Why. The Golden Circle is an alternative way of looking at Mission Command / Centralised Intent – subjects of some of our recent blogs.
The tool can work two ways.
Most organisations probably know “What” they do. In parts of those organisations some will know “How” they do it. But very few people in these organisations will know “Why” they do it. So you can eventually get to Why through starting with What and then How.
Used the other, and arguably more powerful, way we start with Why we are going to do something. When we know Why, we can then go on to develop How we do something and once we know How we will know What to do maintaining a clear line sight to the Purpose or Why.
Consisting of 14 chapters, in six effective parts, it is very easy to read in a day or over the weekend. Following on from his book Sinek has written two further books – the second, on a similar theme, entitled “Find your Why” and his third entitled “Leaders Eat Last”