Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” – How your nonprofit may not be communicating its mission correctly
Simon Sinek, author of "Start With Why", believes most organizations are not communicating their mission correctly. He argues that this happens because organizations communicate their mission from the outside in when they should be doing so from the inside out.
Wait. What does he mean by this?
Sinek believes that as humans we communicate clear, concrete information before fuzzy, complex ideas. He believes organizations pitch numbers before emotions because, as we all know, emotions are hard, difficult things to communicate. There is less risk in numbers.
So what does this “Golden Circle” have to do with my nonprofit?
Sinek argues that many organizations, nonprofits included, communicate in the following order:
WHAT - This is what the organization does. Does your nonprofit fund research? Is it a crisis hotline?
HOW - This is the process. We hold walk/runs to fundraise for the research. We have a 24/7 staff available on call.
WHY - This is their mission statement. No one should suffer from breast cancer. No one should live in fear of domestic violence.
When in reality it should be the other way around:
WHY -> HOW -> WHAT
Before we talk about your nonprofit, let’s use Apple as an example:
If Apple were like every other company they’d communicate the following way.
“Hi, we’re Apple. We make computers. We put a lot of time and effort into them. Do you want to buy one?”
Fortunately Apple does the reverse.
“We believe in challenging the status quo. We think differently. We put a lot of time into the products we create. Hi, we’re Apple. We make computers.”
It’s biology actually...
According to Sinek, this is all rooted in biology. Our newest, outer layer, homosapien brain, encompasses the “what” portion of the message. This is the rational level. This is where language is rooted. This is where logic stems. Then there’s the limbic brain. This is where feelings like trust and loyalty are born. This is where “gut” feelings come from. This is the “why” portion of the message. Sinek wants organizations to appeal to our inner brains, our more primitive selves before the outer layer. This is why we must start with the why. Watch Sinek's Full TedTalk here.
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