I saw this presentation linked from my new co-worker Josh’s blog, it’s Simon Sinek’s TED talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action. He uses Apple as an example of a success and Tivo as an example of a failure. Sinek asserts that leading companies lead because of the why they do what they do not the what or the how. His golden circle theory says that most companies start by talking about the what they do, followed by how they do it and then talk about the why. Great companies and leaders flip that using the example of Apple’s why, “Think Different” and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” not “I have a plan”.
I have always believed that the why is most important part and have been recently struck by Tony Hseih’s, CEO of Zappos, assertion that delivering happiness (the why of Zappos) was the catalyst for their success and their eventual $1.2 billion dollar acquisition by Amazon. It’s what separated them from the thousands of other online retailers.
I really like Sinek’s talk and have listened to it many times over the last week. It also reaffirms what I believe about open source– the reason open source software development works is because people believe in the way that it’s developed. Agree or not I think the talk is very good and worth the listen.