I absolutely love this TED talk by Simon Sinek and had to share it with you. I want to draw out some of these ideas and apply them to project leadership and project management.
A great example of this principle in action for projects are implementations of particular methodologies driven by calls for efficiency or because all of the hip kids are doing it. Countless organizational change iniatives fall prey to this same failure of trying to sell what and how, not why.
How many of us have had process change around us because someone thought it would be a good idea, but we have no idea why the change is happening or why we should care?
If you adopt agile or kanban or whatever whiz-bang method of working, are your teams and organization following because they have to, or because they want to? Have you sold them first on the why?
I think this is an area I can improve on, as I'm sure almost all of us can. I have implemented agile methods of working with teams without any more justification then "trust me, I think this will really help us work better." I was luck in that my teams have usually had some knowledge of agile and were positive on the general approach. So I was relying on their own internal reasons for why in those cases.
Below is my own representation of Sinek's "Golden Circle". The normal method of selling stakeholders and project teams on a project vision is to start with the what, figure out the how, and probably barely touch on the why. For many project team members, the best answer they have to "why?" is "because it's my job."
On the other hand, the inspiring arrow shows a project leader who sells their stakeholders and teams on the core "why?" question first, by answering it in a compelling way. From then on, the details of what, how, when, etc. get worked out in light of the primary answer to "why?" - The Goal.
Please check out his TED talk below. I think you'll enjoy it.
People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it. ~Sinek