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Book Review: Start with Why, by Simon Sinek

When I watched Simon Sinek famous Ted Talk on YouTube a fewer back, I’ve been fascinated by the ease at which he described something that in my mind was meant to be absolutely foundational: everything should start with a purpose.

This book works on a very simple idea. And Sinek is right on target. If you don’t have a burning desire or “why” established for your business, career, or area of interest, you’ll likely give up, burn out, or not have the passion needed to be your best. He breaks down not only how to rethink what you do each day in a different light, but more importantly why you do it.

The concept is very well linked to the recent comment done on the book Drive by Daniel Pink. Traditional “Carrot and Stick” mentality does not work. What caught my attention is the fact that the author looks in detail of why customers choose one company (or brand) vs. another. And how much the key reason for this behavior is unknown to most companies.

Companies don’t know why their customers are their customers, odds are good that they don’t know why their employees are their employees either.

Simon Sinek, Start with Why
Fig.1 – The Gold Circles of Why, How and What.

The key idea that Sinek brings forward is called The Golden Circle, which looks at the Why, as the origin of How, then What. Whereas modern management would apparently concentrate more on the what, the reality is that people are attracted by why companies proceed a certain product, develop a certain brand, propose a certain job.

What’s good about Sinek’s book, is that it ties in the entire value chain of relationship between customer, workers, decision makers. The purpose becomes then really a connector for everything, provided it is perceived was authentic.

This can only work if Trust is built within the organization as a key consistency enabler. By building trust and enabling a communication that nurtures the purpose, we are really able to promote the best results. A culture of achievement and prosperity that extends to all the stakeholders of the company.

Despite seeming simplistic, the ideas of Sinek become foundational for purpose-led companies. The many examples provided in his book are already there to talk to us. But we don’t need to necessarily check the big enterprise to find results of this drive based on purpose. Also at individual level, successful artists for example do all share a sense of belonging to their inner why.

Two more advices are given by the author: 1) in an organizational context it’s important to establish a reach of the “why” across the organization, especially in moments of change. Only by reaching the “Tipping Point” you can ensure success. 2) you need to start with WHY, but also know the HOW to be able to succeed.

This reading (which I’ve now just finished for the second time), has been so important that I’ve decided to deliver a copy of the book to each of my team members a few months back.

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I am an experienced and innovative HR professional dedicated in improving the way organizations achieve results through their people. Over the years I have worked on many projects in different HR domains, gaining a deep understanding of all key HR processes, from Talent Management to Recruiting, from Organizational Design to Leadership Development, from HR Transformation to HR & Payroll Systems implementation at International level. Working with Fashion Brands, leading retailer as well as, through consulting, international brands in industries like Banking, Manufacturing, Professional Services at both Headquarter and local level. Last but not least I consider myself an eclectic and creative personality, with many interests ranging from technology to arts and poetry.

2 Comments

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