Last week we where working on a USP document about easygenerator. At first we came up with a list of functionalities, it was correct but not inspiring or even really convincing. In the end we called it highlights instead of USP’s, because we realized that our bullets with text where not that unique. I did add some text about our vision and mission to it to make it more convincing, but I wasn’t really happy with it.
This morning I remembered that some time ago a colleague pointed me to a TED presentation of Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action. I watched it again and he does have an important point.
He centers his idea around the golden circle.
“The Why is the purpose, cause or belief. The why is your driving motivation for action. The How are guiding principles. They are the specific actions that are taken to realize your Why. The What is the tangible proof, the results. The Whats are the tangible ways in which you bring your Why to life”. (from http://www.startwithwhy.com/Default.aspx).
He states that most people and companies start from the what (our list of great functionalities) and then try to convince people. It’s outside in, from what to how and then why. He says that if you want to innovate and really convince and capture people you have to go inside out: Start with the why. He has great examples from Apple, to the Wright brothers and even Marting Luther King. The greatest line for me was: “Martin Luther King gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech.”
It’s funny, I knew this, but I never realized it. I think he is correct, it works that way. The only precondition he leaves out, is that the Why should address a real problem that people seek a solution for. Otherwise people will not buy into your Why.
I think I am somebody who is driven by the why. I also think that I am more of a leader than a true manager. My greatest assets are that I can give direction, inspire and motivate people. My personal why is easy, it’s my love for my family (sounds a bit corny, but is true). Recently one of my sons became ill and that made very clear to me what motivates me and what my priorities are.
But my professional why is more complex. I already wrote my vision blog on e-learning, I thought it had a lot of why elements in it: I believe that we should bring the learning to the workplace, I believe in making learning a two way street, I believe in integrating EPSS systems, Knowledge management systems and e-Learning, I believe that we should integrate the formal learning with the informal learning, I believe in capturing insights, experiences and knowledge and making them available to others. But in retrospect all this sounds a lot more what then why.
Maybe my why is more that I feel that we don’t really benefit from the possibilities our technology offers us. Often we are hindered and not supported by all the software and hardware we have to our disposal. Another thing is my passion for learning. One of my former companies made on-line help systems and authoring software for them. I he back of my head I was always thinking: If the programmer does a better job, we wouldn’t need all this. When I got involved in e-Learning I found it an activity that can contribute to improve learning, and learning is something significant, it really does mean something. Clearly I need to work on my why, for the time being I will stick with: “Improving the world through innovations in e-Learning?”. The question mark is the indicator that it needs some more work.