Sunday, 9 May 2010

The circle of life...

There is a point of view that leaders and innovators ask and show not only What is to be done and How to do it, but Why it is so. The three questions can be written inside concentric circles - the Why being the central one - the bull's eye.

Simon Sinek formulated this hypothesis - the Golden Circle

I grew up with a different Golden Circle. An Australian canner of fruits and vegies (slogans and labels are seldom original.) When I heard someone asking in reverent tones if I had heard about the "Golden Circle" I was unsure what to say. At first I thought it had something to do with rewards at school for good behaviour - but that is Golden Time. Then I wondered if the teacher makes the kids sit in a ring to enjoy their Golden Time. Then my mind turned to my favourite childhood dessert - pineapple meringue pie (missing my mum this Mother's Day). So I ventured - "What is so special about tinned pineapple and beetroot?" (lovely word "beetroot" with that pair of double vowels in each of the syllables; not many of those in English - moonbeam is close - I can think of no other actual word; poormoon, moonbeen, teendoor, spoonfeet, meetsoon, beetpoop, beennoon, teensoon...). 

Where was I? Golden Circle. Not exactly something to blog home about.
Then she explained.

Simon says organisations and careers function on three levels: 
WhyPurpose, cause or belief
The Why is your driving motivation for action. 
WhatTangible proof, results
The Whats are the tangible ways in which you bring your Why to life.
How - Guiding principles
The Hows are the specific actions that are taken to realize your Why.

He says too few organisations have a simple and comprehensible Why or fail to make it known.

This is good stuff - one man has taken over Why for himself - like the Riddler (Batman). He has all the merchandise - Why branded money clips, book marks, cuff links. There is even a Why University (looks uncannily like a coaching package, but what do I know?). Will a new WhyMCA be next? Any Whyne with your dinner? Whyte collar crime?

His website and his message is simple, clear and direct - no excess verbiage. It makes great sense and he is booked solid. 

I am coming at this from the wrong direction. (Come on Springgirl , when have you ever been wrong?) Ok, perhaps I should say I am using a less effective set of tangible ways to bring my Why to life. My Hows may not realise my Why. What did you say? What? Oh you mean, pardon? No. What. Exactly. Nothing seems to mean What it used to anymore.

Let me explain. Here I am, crafting a subtle blend of parody, irony, non-brevity and longevity in the hope that something of What I say will ring true for you or challenge you or make you laugh and I suddenly realise that I never clearly and overtly and authentically asserted my reason for doing so. Sure, you all assume I am blogging to amuse or amaze some faceless but influential writing talent scout in cyber-space who will pluck me from urban obscurity and turn me into the Voice of Small-Time-Crackpot-Wannabes the world over.

But you would be wrong - yes wrong! Hush now and listen. Simon says:
"It takes two things to be a great communicator: First, you need to be an optimist... (Springgirl: Phew - that's ok - I am definitely one of those!) Second:  you must be able to put what you can imagine into simple words that everyone can understand; it doesn’t help to use a big vocabulary.." (Springgirl: Not so good at that.)
Alright Simon. I will give it a crack (m. Aussie laconic expression for "try"). The Why - my motivation (in case you missed the last post watching Master Chef, participating in some real world social interaction or reading something less erudite) - is: Because I Want To.

Why do I want to? Because it is fun, interactive (people join in), engaging (I get into it and time passes) and stimulating (interesting, not too easy or dull).

See - the Golden Circle revolution is changing my life!

Perhaps I should reassess my What while I am second guessing my How. My subject matter is not simple or plain. I write about people and feelings and confusion and language and words. Should I just get over myself and tell you my child's favourite colour or What I ate for dinner or some such banality? Let me be truly honest - who cares? I don't even care What I ate. I happen to find the whole food obsession incomprehensible. I haven't had much appetite for 9 years since I subscribed to The Ecologist and began reading food labels in search of unmentionable and unpronounceable chemical additives. Sorry to put you off your dinner...

Maybe I need to try harder to find something that is simple and interesting. Chocolate....


That little guy on the end looks like the little Z in the "Cat in the Hat Comes Back" (next post topic?!).

But even if I find something simple and not too boring to write about there is a risk that my Why will be jeopardised. My What might be easier to convey if it were simpler but it might cease to prove my Why. I don't think I am allowed to change my Why willy nilly. And I mean the actual Why (the "I want to Why", not the "plucked from obscurity" perceived Why). So Where am I now?

Oh yes, for me the What has to stay more complex than simple, so that just leaves the How. The How is: blogging in a long winded way every few days. I think. How else could I communicate with you so as to make you laugh or think, without using these specific actions? I could phone you, I suppose, or write a letter, or a book. Oh no, I did that already. I could post comments on other people's blogs... That might get old pretty quickly, though.

Yet some of those alternative Hows might work, but they would be time consuming and might not appeal so much to you, who I think quite like being anonymous and removed from me and each other. Yes? And they would restrict my audience perhaps (given the huge numbers of avid readers I now attract, of course). So, the blog method of communicating seems to suit my Why. Rest assured I can be brief - I do Twitter! Not nearly as rewarding, though - feels like a waste of time actually - so I mostly use it to spread salacious gossip. 

I feel really ebullient now. I seem to be able to satisfy all the relevant criteria in order to hit the bull's eye and sit in the Golden Circle with all the leaders and innovators. 
The only outstanding issue is whether I can use fewer and less-big big words.  


I cannot change. 

If you are all in agreement then - let's move on. I want to share my vision for the future with you.

I see a world in which those who have the most uncanny grasp of the obvious and who can marry that insight with savvy marketing panache, cool catchwords, cliched slogans and celebrity sung jingles will run every company, every country and everything. 

What? You think I have no vision? Oh. You think I am describing current reality? Yep - you've got me there.

Ok. How about this then? 
I believe that we need to ask more of ourselves and of our leaders. We need to dream of a world in which everyone can struggle equally and freely to grasp complex and sophisticated concepts and ideas. We may not all master them, some of us may prefer to stay in our corners where we feel safe, where the words are not too big and the messages clear, and that will be ok, because in this future world there will be no right angles, no poles, no extremes.

In this future that together we will build, the Why and the How and the What will not be alone in their work to make sense of the difficult stuff. In this future the Circle will be squared - no, Pentagonsied - or even, dare we dream it - Hexagonised! The vertices will be replete and the Who and the When and the Where will take their rightful places in the quest for meaning and truth.

Just between us - I think I might graduate summa cun laude from a certain university...


  1. Just a short note for your What.

    Don't change your How. I laughed and felt suitability challenged.

    Stick to fun and interesting language. Using the simple words "who", "what" and "I don't know" did not help Abbott & Costello communicate any more clearly.

    I also hope you intended to lose me completely when you started to square the circle. Coaching speak can get somewhat tedious at times.

  2. It did not land with you? what did that look like for you? where would you like to go with this? and who will you be when you get there?