What if the we spend time thing about the world in thirds. The third that is uniquely us. The third that is fundamentally others. And the third where we overlap. At this moment, the us and other third are lighting up narratives across the world. Mask wearers vs freedom breathers. BLM vs All Live Matter. Open vs shut communities. Democrats vs Republicans. Science vs personal freedoms. Rights vs responsibilities.
What if we committed to looking at the middle third. The third that connects us and creates combinations. The reasons Simon Sinek’s Start With Why approach is so powerful, is when know a person’s purpose, we can connect with them at the headwaters of their existence. We can share a journey down the mountain stream that becomes a creek and then transforms into a river. If we only encounter the river at A major rapid, we might dismiss their ideas as dangerous, loud, and volatile. However, if we understand where the journey started, we have a greater perspective about why the rapid exists. It does not mean we let the current takes us blindly downstream. We look for points of confluence. We seek connections, not diversion.
What if the middle third is our focus? How might our work be amplified by seeking the middle third, instead of populating the outer thirds? US vs others is dates back to antiquity. US and other is challening and runs into historical barriers but it is the work that matters now.
*** Jud Abumrad came to our commuity for a speaking engagement. My wife remarked that numerous audience members were looking for something they could purchase (a book) that he could sign. He did not have books for sale but rather just his presentation and ideas. Perhaps the legacy of his visit is a transformative idea, one that we cannot read and store on a bookshelf. Rather it is now a way of being that we must decide to embrace or say ‘not yet.’
The responsibility of leadership is not to come up with all the ideas. The responsibility of leadership is to create an environment in which great ideas can thrive. -Simon Sinek
If there is trust, our best ideas come forward. We share both our most passionate thoughts and those that sit precariously not fully formed teetering on the edge. Best ideas originate when the aperture opens and we see more. Creating this way of thinking requires consideration and preparation. When it happens we are transformed into thinking about the future instead of glancing backwards into the past.
Are you playing a finite game or an infinite game? Are you working towards an arbitrary ranking or seeking joy from advancement? If we play the finite game, we work to beat others, however if we play the infinite game, we focus on doing better work. If we choose to be in the game, we also choose which game we play. Very different cultures emerge depending on our focus. The game we play defines our relationships, work, world view, and politics.
Simon Sinek illustrates the power of the game in a remarkable talk. His message, we have a choice and that choice defines us and our work.
(Thank you Patricia for encouraging me to watch Simon’s talk)
As members of the tribe we are acquainted with Simon Sinek’s Start With Why and Golden Circle. Simon’s approach represents one of the more transformational processes to uncover and articulate individual and organizational purpose.
I have been grappling with ways to ensure strategic planning does not morph into operational planning. Said differently, how do we create clarity for the board and staff such that the action items do not drive the plan and the strategies are abandoned in favor of completing action steps (which feel so good to check-off)? Employing Simon’s highly complex circles illustrates a different approach to strategic thinking. The strategic goals are at the center of the plan similar to the Whys in the Golden Circle. The Objectives serve as the bridge to provide a route for the goals similar to the Hows. Finally, each action items represents a tangible and concrete step taken to move an initiative forward in alignment with the Whats.
Conceptually this is a paradigm shift but it leaves the action items vulnerable to a What-centric approach (outside-in thinking). In reflecting on the roles and responsibilities of the board and staff there is an opportunity to leverage a focal point that resonates. What if the board’s culture of inquiry originates from the strategic goal and proceeded outwards and the staff drives the plan from the action items inwards towards the goal? These opposing (but unified) approaches provides for transformational strategic thinking.
Simons Golden Circle’s simplicity provides a user-friendly approach. For me, it offers a visible way to support and amplify the power of strategic thinking. I look forward to your thoughts and refinements.
Metrics that are easy to read and simplify complex formulas are awesome. Charts that show improvement rock. Real-time telemetry amazes. However, if we stare at the dashboard too long it is easy to replace numbers for people. We let systems and schedules run the people instead of vice-versa. How do you make sure the people are always the first point of focus?
Great leaders would never sacrifice the people to save the numbers; they would sooner sacrifice the numbers to save the people. – Simon Sinek