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I love Simon Sinek’s video about his theory of “Start with Why“. And I have no doubt it works.
But once you’ve sold your why-idea to someone, what happens next? I was asking myself this question when thinking about change (in general, not only in organizational context).
I suspect one could sort people out in three categories:
- Why people are those motivated primarily about the purpose or the cause of an action or a change. They’re advocates or public relations people. They find their motivation in trying to make other people see and understand their perspective, or adhere to the same “why”.
- How people are motivated by the process or method by which to reach the Why. If the Why triggers them into motion, the How is what drives their relentless actions: How to communicate? How to best serve the cause?
- What people are finally those who are motivated by the doing. They want to get things done, because, in the end, it’s all that count.
If the selling of an idea “starts with why”, the realization of it clearly needs all three types.
You might know the parable of the man throwing back fishes stranded on the beach. He picks them up one after another and throws them back into the sea. Yet there are thousands left to go. Comes a passerby wondering whether this makes any difference given the huge number to go proceed, some of which will probably die anyway. The guy answers, throwing another fish in the sea: “to this one at least, it does make a difference!”.
The guy throwing fishes back into the sea is a What person. A How person would take some time devising a method to throw more back to the sea at a time and a way to preserve the ones left to throw until their time has come. And finally a Why person would beat drums to gather other people to help in throwing fishes back into the sea.
I’m clearly of the How type. What about you?
Pick a project you’re working on. Who’s in charge of the Why and is it articulated clearly enough? Have you thought of the How in order to best deliver your value or message? And who’s in charge of the doing?