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The "Why" in Agile

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

How Defining “Why” Will Help Organisations Become Agile?

Human beings are a curious lot. From a very young age, we are curious about why we should do what we are told. However, as we grow older, we tend to focus less on standing out from others and more on assimilating. Why? Although it’s such a simple word, the concept behind it is multi-fold, one that British author and inspirational talker Simon Sinek popularised back in 2009. According to his hypothesis, it is integral for organisations and their brand to emphasise a more distinctive proposition than their competitors.

His Golden Circle Theory encourages business leaders to question their motives at the fundamental level. Why? How? What? Whereas all organisations worldwide know what product or service they sell, only some are truly aware of how they do it. Out of all these, only a fraction understand the purpose, cause or belief of their existence. This is especially important in the space of Agile and Design Thinking for organisations.

Purpose Vs. Sales

Most leaders and companies follow movements, very few create them. However, leaders such as Elon Musk and Malala Yousafzai and companies such as Apple and Harley Davidson have cultivated an incredible and enormous following, not to mention loyal. In all these cases, complete visions have been circulated to their potential audience or customer right from the beginning, thereby challenging the status quo. Where usually an organisational sales pitch is promoted from the outside in, i.e. what the company sells, how the product stands out and why it believes in it, the highly influential businesses communicate from inside out. They explain, first and foremost, why they exist and question why you should care. Only once your attention is sought do they move on to how they are a better fit before describing their products and services. As Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.”

Inspire Vs. Manipulate

Successful leaders inspire and enable us to think, act, and communicate better. Instead of telling their audience what product they make, how it’s different and why it needs to be bought, they reverse the order of communication. To instil consumer confidence, good leaders seek to tap into the part of their listener’s mind that influences customer behaviour, emotions and decision making. According to Seth Godin, another prominent writer, speaker and entrepreneur, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell.” He emphasises the need for influential leaders to sell to people who are listening. Consumers today have the luxury of ignoring traditional marketing campaigns, which is why it has become necessary to earn their trust via “permission marketing.” Social media platforms employ permission-marketing techniques to better connect with their audience, thereby earning their attention and trust. “The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe,” says Sinek.

You Vs. Everyone

A competitive spirit is a healthy ingredient in the recipe for an organisation’s success. However, when leaders begin straying from their true course in their battle to beat the competition, they begin losing their people, both internal and external, employee and customer. When you compete with yourself, you expand your horizon and invite innovation from all the voices around you. When you compete with everyone else, you are closing yourself from originality and limiting your reach. So let the need for competition remain within you while the desire for discovery roams free. It’s easy to come up with an idea, but an idea without a foundation or vision will lack effectiveness and longevity.

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