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Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team Paperback – September 5, 2017
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About the Author
SIMON SINEK is an optimist, teacher, writer, and worldwide public speaker. His first three books - Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, and Together is Better - have been national and international bestsellers. His first TED talk, based on Start With Why, is the third most-viewed TED video of all time. Learn more about his work and how you can inspire those around you at StartWithWhy.com.
PETER DOCKER is a former senior Royal Air Force pilot turned leadership consultant and executive coach.
DAVID MEAD has presented to over 80 organizations in a wide variety of industries and co-hosts the Start With Why podcast.
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The man has a theme. He calls it the Golden Circle: Why—How—What. Why is the reason. How is the means. What is the result. They all have to be in balance, driven by the why, and when they are, you will achieve authenticity and success.
The theme hasn’t changed. In terms of the Start with Why concept itself, you’ll find little new here. Find Your Why is a how-to. Sinek and his team, Peter Docker and David Mead, and Docker and Mead in particular, provide a detailed guide to defining and sharing the why, how, and what within an actual organization, using the process they have refined through extensive use to help companies apply the original Sinek concept. (There is a refresher for those who haven’t read Start with Why or viewed the Ted talk.)
As the authors state, “That’s the reason this book exists. If Start with Why makes the case for the WHY, Find Your Why provides the steps to show people how to actually do it.” And it does a good job at achieving that goal.
To those who have been in the organizational world for a while, a lot of this will sound a lot like past initiatives to define mission, values, strategy, and tactics, or some combination of those concepts, however you define them. The Start With Why Team, as they refer to themselves, openly discusses that later in the book.
The language is different. And so are the priorities and the focus. Values, as most organizations define them, and as the Why Team points out, are really just ideals. They aren’t actionable. And they’re right.
It would be a disservice, therefore, to characterize the Why program as more of the same, either more of the 2009 TED talk or more of the overlapping programs many other consultants have promoted over the years. This is more than just another of the 32 flavors of Colgate toothpaste that Sinek refers to in Start with Why. And that’s because he always goes back to why. And that’s the magic.
So, if you are responsible for developing engagement, strategy, or similar programs for your company, I would consider this a must read. If that’s not what you need, there is still plenty of value to the book. Sinek and his team are clearly impassioned. The writing is very fluid. And when it comes to WHY, you can’t get too much of a good thing.
This book is directed at addressing that gap.
The book is rather short, and an easy read. In essence, its message is:
1. There are two kinds of why discovery processes - one for individuals and one for groups
2. Both of them work the same way: look to your formative experiences and figure out the themes, and what was significant. Then distill that into your 'why'.
The authors provided a fairly high level process for doing that.
INDIVIDUALS: FINDING YOUR WHY
I think overall the book follows a good approach for helping you find your purpose or 'why.' I did feel though that the nuts and bolts of the process could have been further elaborated in parts of the individual 'why' discovery process, with additional questions and exercises to help guide people through the process.
ORGANISATIONS: FINDING YOUR WHY
The book provided a good run-through of the steps of facilitating a purpose-discovery workshop.
I think that there are other books that go into greater depth around the processes of finding your individual why and the process of finding an organisation or group's why. But this book is a good starting point.
If you are completely new to 'finding your why' this book provides a short, accessible guide to how to do that and the process is solid.
If you are looking for more depth around your why, you may find exploring other treatments of this topic provide greater depth and additional perspective.
The Problem with the Personal Why- The method they offer relies on self selected stories from your past and filtering them through someone who doesn't know you all that well in order to sort out a common thread or theme in everything you do. The inherent weaknesses are that the stories you're telling will be memories you've selected (meaning ones you liked best due to whatever mood you were in when you selected), and present to someone who doesn't have enough background on you to spot your biases/mis-remembrances in the first place. The book cautions against framing your why in terms of who you wish you were, instead of who you are, but that flies in the face of human nature. The lies we tell ourselves are ones we're fully willing to believe and will gladly serve up to others with a smile. The entire Personal Why method falls prey to the self-selection bias. On top of which, the idea that a personal why must always focus on service to others rather than self is unrealistic. We don't always get out of bed in the morning trying to help others, and saying we "should" is just moralistic brow-beating. Even Simon points this out in Leaders Eat Last (great book!) when he mentions self-less and selfish neurochemicals. That book clearly states we are not always one or the other. Sometimes my WHY is for me. The Why could be the same idea, but I'm not always going to apply it to giving to others.
The Business Why- One problem here is much the same. You're asking a business to come up with the values they share. Your going to hear the same B.S.. They'll tell you what they'd "like" to value, and probably parrot off the "right answers" instead of what they truly value. The other problem (and this is a BIGGIE) is when they talk about other employees who don't agree with the WHY the company came up with. They minimize that, sweeping it under the rug and lamely state that "It may need to be re-worded." Yes, OR...it might just be wrong and what management wants to feed the lower rung folks. Espousing the idea that if the employees don't agree, it means they "may not be a good fit" sounds a lot like paying homage to Go Along or Get Out. It's not how Simon meant it, I'm sure, but that's one very toxic mis-use of this. True discomfort with the why should be hashed out by everyone, not marginalized if they weren't at the initial discovery session. A minor re-phrase won't fix it if what management thinks the company is does not jive with front-line and low end workers. Simon probably wants people from all levels in the Why Discovery meet, but we know that doesn't often happen. Meetings like this tend to be a C-Suite and middle management love-fest. And I fear what they say in the book will only encourage management to de-value dissenting opinions and may even put peoples' jobs in danger, allowing management to decide that an opposing viewpoint suddenly means the one who speaks up is just not a good match with the newly hatched Why of the organization. Because the Why can't be wrong, can it?
Good ideas, great writing, but serious weaknesses.