While: What + 0.5*How +0.05*Why = Frustration + 0.3*Action + 0.01*Meaning
I am referring to a TED talk by Simon Sinek about how some people and groups of people can achieve amazing things, while others perform poorly. He used three examples: The Wright Brothers, Apple and the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King.
Simon Sinek’s contention was, that all three examples used the opposite of approach of how we act in reality. The prevailing approach is that a manager wants to see results, so he states what he wants to have done. Possibly he spends a few minutes how he wants to have it done, but little time is spent on why he ants to have it done in the first place.
What Apple, the Wright Brothers and Dr. King had in common is that they share their motivation first. Why did the Wright Brothers believe in manned flight; Why does Apple offer devices that make your life easier instead of selling just another computer or music player, etc.; Why did Dr. King believe in the equality of man and his cause of equal rights.
The three examples tie their followers to their cause, to their belief – they share a motivation. This talk really resonated with me, because this is what I want, too. How many of you have done work (regardless of in your job, for friends or elsewhere) that you had absolutely no to at least very little identification with. How would you feel about the same work if you saw meaning in it; if someone told you why you should do the work, rather than telling you what work you should do?
Think about it – I did, I still do. I have listened to this talk in mid April and it still is one of my favorite talks.
Bere in Thailand, I am in a leadership position. Due to the culture in Thailand, it would be very easy for me to lead by the “What + 0.5*How +0.05%Why” formula, but I promised myself sometime in May, that regardless what my future would look like, I would not manage that way, but that I would make a serious effort to lead by “Why + How + What”.
In the next few paragraph I will share my motivation, observations and experiences.
Why Do I Do This? I believe that people in general want to help, want to contribute, want to do good. If I tell people why I do something, why I need something, why I ask for their help, why I want them to do something, I seize the opportunity to create a common cause, something we both believe in. When I explain how I want to do something or how I want something done, I provide an opportunity for the other person to contribute by making additional suggestions. I also show, how important the cause is to me, by demonstrating I have thought about the cause and how to realize it. Finally, the What piece – and this was surprising to me – almost didn’t have to be mentioned. People almost immediately understood, what it was that they could do for me.
How am I doing it? I take the time to help put the work my engineers do into context. How does their work fit into making a great product. How does their work enable the customer to manufacture a great product. We don’t share all the same insights and we should take into account that by providing context, we allow people to recognize and start to identify with importance, function, utility of their contribution.
What is it, I am doing? I put people in the center. I take time for them. I help them put their current and future contributions into context, which allows my engineers and me to establish a common cause, something we can both believe in.
- To commit to it this way, was a leap of faith – but I believed (still believe) in it passionately.
- It takes time. I needed time to explain my approach and to establish mutual trust. On a continuing basis I need to think about how I am going to put work assignments into context.
- It is extremely rewarding to me and to my engineers.
- The Why-How-What approach facilitates collaboration significantly.
- I have observed that people give generously when they believe in something.
- My engineers have started a transformation where they ask questions, that lead to more insights, more knowledge.
You may put this away as esoteric hog-wash, but in a quiet minute, ask yourself why you wouldn’t like to be treated this way. I may be wrong, but I doubt it – all f your really important decisions in life were made following Why-How-What and not the other way around. I’ll give you a few examples: wedding, house purchase, vacation, etc.
Alright, this is it. I am very interested in your comments, so please leave some, send me an email or provide feedback any other way you can think of.
And before I forget, here’s the link to the TED (Technology – Education – Design) website: http://www.ted.com
The Simon Sinek Talk in particular:
and best regards from perpetual Summer Bangkok.