Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.

Most days, when chaos is not breaking loose and I’m not on conference calls throughout, my commute to and from work generally consists of music. Any kind will do, based on my mood of course, but for me the William Congreve quote certainly holds true.  Although recently I stumbled across the TED app for my phone, and now I will occasionally find myself looking for inspiration from some of the great leadership minds of our day.  This particular one caught my attention the other day: Simon Sinek:How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek provides some powerful insights into human behavior by diving into a concept he calls the Golden Circle.

The essence of what he describes is as follows (picture concentric circles):

  • The outer most band is the WHAT –nearly 100% of people will know what their organization does. It equates to the portion of our brain that processes rational thought
  • The center bad is the HOW– some within the organization will know the how – the proprietary processes and/or technology that lead to a differentiated value proposition
  • The center band is the WHY – not to make a profit, which he argues is a result, but rather the purpose, the cause … why does your organization exist? This equates to the part of the brain that processes emotions like trust & loyalty.

Most organizations operate from the outside it … “let me rationalize what I do for you, and how I do it to influence you to buy from me”.  Truly innovative organizations (like Apple he comments), operate from the inside out.  Even though they have the same access to talent, technology, media, etc … Apple continuously innovates because they are focused on the why that leads to the how and the what.  Listen to the podcast for some great examples.

Mostly this topic resonated with me because whether you look at it from a Product Management leadership perspective, or from an individual perspective, operating from the inside out has a lot of merit.  If you can understand the why, it can help drive decisions behind the how and the what.  Many years ago I went through the exercise of pursuing a personal purpose statement … and it aligns very nicely to what Simon present.  To over-simplify the entry, you can look at it like this:

  • Purpose: Why am I here?
  • Vision: Where am I going
  • Mission: How will I get there?
  • Values: What’s important along the way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.