How is it that some organisations are able to achieve and sustain inordinate amounts of success for years on end by inspiring loyalty and engagement among their customers and employees alike?
All great and inspiring people and organisations think, act and communicate in the same way and it is the complete opposite from everyone else.
The diagram below shows the Golden Circle which explains this concept. The Why (the Purpose & Values) of the organisation is at the centre of business and personal success. The Golden Circle concept was developed by Simon Sinek.
When the three elements of the Golden Circle are aligned, it gives us a filter through which to make decisions and provides a foundation for building trust. When all three are balanced, people will know who you are and know what you stand for.
Every organisation and individual knows What they do. For an organisation, these are the products or services they sell. For an individual, it is their job title or roles.
Some organisations and individuals know How they do what they do. These will normally be the things that make them special or different from everyone else that set them apart from their competition – their unique selling proposition (USP).
Why is the organisation’s purpose and values – its reason for being and beliefs. It provides clear answers to the questions, “Why do you go to work every day?” “Why does your organisation exist?” and “Why should that matter to anyone else?”. Unfortunately very few people and organisations are able to clearly articulate Why they do what they do
It is important to note that Why cannot be “to make money”. Revenues, profits, salaries and other monetary measurements are simply the results of what we do. Rather, our Why (purpose) is about our contribution we make, as well as our core values or guiding principles. I should inspire us and those around us. Our purpose is about the way we Feel, not just the words we say.
We Communicate from the Outside – In
People naturally communicate from the outside-in – from What to How to Why. This is because What is the easiest to understand while Why is the hardest to understand and explain.
Typically people and organisations communicate this way by telling people What they do and sometimes How they are different or better. They rarely say Why they do what they do yet they expect it to result is a desired behavior like making a purchase, taking action, etc.
Here is how most organisations market and communicate:
What: “We are a legal firm specialising in all aspects of corporate law.”
How: “We have experts in the field with extensive knowledge and experience gained for working with businesses across a wide variety of industries and markets.”
Expected Behavior: “Hire us!”
Change the way we communicate
The problem with communicating from the outside in is that What and How do not inspire action. While facts and figures may make rational sense, people make decisions based on emotion – what feels right. Consequently, communicating purely based on facts and figures will not inspire people to buy from you.
If you want to inspire people to buy from you then you need to change the way that you communicate by starting with Why and working from the inside out, as shown in the diagram on the left.
Starting with Why means communicating your purpose first which drives decision-making and behavior. This is because it literally ‘talks’ to the part of the brain that influences behavior.
Here’s an example with the same legal firm discussed above but this time starting with their Why:
Why: “We believe in providing practical advice for all our clients, working with them to make a difference and achieve their business goals while building trusted relationships.”
How: “Our lawyers are commercially astute, experts in their field, and easy to deal with. They are passionate about what they do and have a practical and responsive approach to client needs.”
What: “We are a legal firm who pride ourselves on adding value to our clients. If we can help solve your problem we will introduce you to someone who can.”
Expected Behavior: “Clients who believe in us will want to work with us.”
When an organisation has a purpose that they believe in, they think, act and communicate based on that Purpose, they will attract people who believe what they believe and who want to be a part of their cause. This is not restricted to customers, it includes employees, investors, suppliers and everyone else associated with the organisation.
Having a purpose supported by strong values is a very powerful tool when it is communicated in the correct way – starting with Why.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”