Start with Why
An In-Depth Look at the Golden Circle
Part 2: Strategy
What makes a strong organization? What makes a strong leader? And how can you best lead your own life? Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle gives us an interesting theory to build on.
The Golden Circle contains three rings. The center of the circle is about your WHY, or motivation, which we talked about in this post. The second ring, is about the HOW or strategies used to accomplish the WHY, which we will discuss further here. The outer ring discusses the WHAT, or the tasks in which we prioritize.
Now that we know WHY we do something, HOW are we going to do it? The core of this discussion is around the strategies we use to accomplish our WHY. This is the element that organizations feel differentiates them from other organizations.
What makes them stand out from the crowd?
What makes YOU stand out from the crowd?
Your Why informs Your How
Defining Strategy and Finding Your How
How and Implementation
Moving Forward and Execution
Back to the How
Your Why Informs Your How
Paul Minors’ summary (download link) of the Golden Circle highlights that each piece of the Golden Circle needs to be balanced; so even though WHY is at the core, the HOW is just as important.But how do we figure out our HOW? What does that look like?
For organizations, this may be the set of actions or behaviours that will set you apart from others. So why not create a toolbox of actions that help you achieve your goals? Developing a strategy, informed by your WHY, will help you live your best life.
A well-known example, used by Simon Sinek, is described in his TedTalk here. Apple’s WHY, “In everything that we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently”, directly informs their HOW—“The way we do this is to design products that are beautifully designed and easy to use” (Minors, n.d.).
Your WHY statement describes the contribution and impact you plan on making in the world. My WHY is: to empower others to live their most authentic life, so that we can feel connected and purposeful. So, HOW do I do this?
First, lets take a deeper look into first what we mean by strategy and how implementation and execution come into play.
Defining Strategy and Finding Your How
Ken Favaro examines the difference between strategy, implementation, and execution in the context of a business. Favaro says strategy is about figuring out what will distinguish the company from others and how they add value to customers.
HOW are you doing things differently from the people around you that will make you unique? What are your strategies, even just in the simple, every-day-life tasks, that differentiates you?
What are your strengths? Are you a great leader, a great team player, an innovative thinker, or great at building connections? How can you harness these skills to execute your WHY?
Grossman gives a great example of how to clearly define your strategy. Here he suggests that once you have your strategy to create definitions of each word or phrase—what do they mean to you. For example, the word growth, global, or innovative can be interpreted in many different ways. So if you want your strategy, or HOW, to be clear—define it.
HOW and Implementation
Implementation is about making the strategy a reality. Favaro makes the point that,
“ . . . a strategy can never actually be fully implemented because everything that you necessarily assumed when formulating it . . . is in a constant state of flux. And if that’s the case, there will always be a gap between where [companies] are and what their strategies call for. Closing that gap is “implementation”. Thus, strategy and implementation are running almost continuously in parallel rather than in sequence.” (Favaro, 2015)
This explains that our WHY, HOW, and WHAT are all interconnected. They aren’t created in isolation. The strategy (HOW) and implementation (the HOW and WHAT) are happening in parallel. This is important because our strategies may not be static, they shift based on internal and external factors.
One step further, execution, is the actual “decisions and activities” that are completed to accomplish the strategy. This is the WHAT of the Golden Circle, which we will expand on later.
Back to the HOW
Earlier I mentioned that my WHY is: to empower others to live their most authentic life, so that we can feel connected and purposeful.
Now, HOW do I do this?
I do this by: being authentic, creating connections with people, asking difficult questions, and helping others. I desire to help people feel connected and true to themselves.
At its core, my strategy for this is being of service to people. Whether that is with my time, money, or skills, I want to use each of those to empower people. Here is how I would outline my strategy, or my HOW, as:
- Be honest – whether its with myself or others, speak up when you feel unheard or you feel others have been unheard
- Create connections – bring people together in all situations, be inclusive in celebration
- Provide support – allow people to lean on you, be a good listener, and spend quality time with others
- Celebrate differences – acknowledge and appreciate the differences in everyone
I believe these strategies will help me to live out my WHY and inform everything I do. As Grossman explained, defining each of our strategies will help us to better follow-through with them because we understand exactly what they mean to us.
Favaro, K. (2015, Mar 31). Defining strategy, implementation, and execution. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2015/03/defining-strategy-implementation-and-execution
Grossman, D. (2018, Jan 3). 5 Tips to define your business strategy. The Grossman Group. Retrieved from: http://www.yourthoughtpartner.com/blog/bid/69936/5-tips-to-define-your-business-strategy-literally
Minors, P. (n.d.). Start with why by Simon Sinek: Book Summary by Paul Minors. Retrieved from: https://paulminors.com/start-simon-sinek-book-summary-pdf-download/
One of the hardest things is defining your HOW. When I started building Sprout, the HOW was the part I started with, like most people. It was later when I found this, where I defined my WHY and the HOW came a lot easier. How Sprout differentiates itself from it’s competition is it’s simple nature of what needs to be accomplished day in and day out to be successfu. We provide the steps in a way that are easy to follow, you can go at your own speed and most importantly, it’s part of an overall plan to get you to the next milestone.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”― Simon Sinek
Now it’s time to figure out your HOW. What are your strengths? What are your strategies for living out your WHY? Become clear and confident in these strategies and don’t worry if they change over time. Your HOW may change, but as long as you are regularly reflecting on how they connect with your WHY, there is nothing to worry about.
Share any thoughts or comments below. If you’re too shy to post feel free to message me on any of our social media profiles and I promise to get back to you. Stay tune for Part III coming next week!
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