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Practical Golden Circle

Start with Why Agile

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Practical Golden Circle

Being inspiring, understood and followed by others is highly important for every Leader… to be called “a Leader”, right? On the other hand, it’s not easy and often, even being right, we remain unheard. Let’s see what we can do… (“The Why” of this Article)

The Golden circle by Simon Sinek is well known concept, his “Start with Why” book and talks are super popular. It’s a simple and very powerful idea: When we, as leaders, want to convince our followers of something, their decision will be always emotional and driven by their perception of the Why. It doesn’t matter how many arguments we have. There is even a biological explanation. So, always emphasize the reason and the Why, not the What (which is the usual mistake). 

Although simple concept, it needs to be practiced, not only understood, but also realized. That’s why we’ll share some practical examples of applying the Golden Circle. (“The How” of this Article) 

NB: It's not your Why - it's theirs!

The biggest mistake is to put under focus our own needs. We often explain why something is super important talking about us and how our or the company’s wealth will be improved. Instead, we must clearly articulate why this is important for the people we want to convince and how they will benefit from it. The decisions people make are emotional, not rational, so the decision makers need to know and sense how their own life will become better, not yours!

People are emotional beasts

(Following is “The What” of this Article)

They must read this!

Imagine, hypothetically only, that you are sending a very important mail and… no body reads it. Has this ever happened to you?! 🙂

Take this article as an example. The induction says, the post is going to help leaders who want to be more convincing. This is your Why to read it.

So, if you want to make someone read your message, it’s important to start with why the written is important for the reader. With little practice and reminding yourself, you will get used to structure your writings starting with the Why.


Oh No! I've a Presentation!

Keeping the attention of the audience is not an easy job. Because of the nowadays technologies people cannot stay focused and are losing interest for seconds. Presenting or providing training for such an audience becomes very difficult, on the other hand the modern organizations value such skills highly.

Having Simon Sinek in mind it’s a good idea to put some slide in the beginning of every sub-topic, containing information about why the topic is relevant for the audience. The slides themselves can start with the message why the concrete slide’s content is worth to be taken seriously. Structuring your presentations in the Start-with-why manner can be very useful.

Meaningful Documentation

Similar to the emails, if we want to create a wiki post or important guide, it’s worth to consider ordering the documentation starting with the reason and purpose of the document.  

Additionally, documentation becomes outdated in the second it’s written. Often, we read documents which are not relevant for a long time or at least are not fully accurate. On the other hand, the purpose of the document is still relevant and if we understand it, we can more easily overcome the inexactness.

Powerful User Stories

Everybody knows the “As a user…, I want to …, so that…” user story format. It’s one of those things that goes viral just because it was said and repeated enough times by the right people. But this format is not the most efficient one and we have seen many cases when it is misused and turned into a regular functional specification. The “so that…” part is often missed, although it is the most important one, containing the meaning.

Instead, there are other formats which start with the purpose – with the Why. And only after we have the Why, we can start discussing if the “what needs to be done” is enough. This how innovation happens.

Example of Powerful User story

Harsh Talks

Giving constructive feedback or delivering difficult massages is never easy. The receiver of the harsh message must understand why it is important for her/him to take the feedback and why the specifics and examples you provide should have gone differently. Starting with the Why is crucial and can help you take down the guard of the person and close the distance.

A Mandatory Agile Coaching Skill

In conclusion we can say, making sure people know the reason and understand the why behind practices and day-to-day decisions is a mandatory skill for every Agile coach. Thinking about other person’s why and benefits of every topic helps you develop stronger empathy skills. The golden circle and the Start-with-why structure are a simple and powerful tool, which must be part of the toolbox of every leader. 

Curios to learn more about Agile, Scrum, Kanban and OKR?

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About the Authors

Nikola Bogdanov Agile Coach

Nikola Bogdanov

Agile Coach

Nikola is an Agile enthusiast with deep interests in people, team and organizational facilitation and coaching. He has rich experience as Agile coach, Scrum master and Agile leader in big and small organizations.

It’s easy to say, Agile is in his DNA

Bogoy Bogdanov Agile Coach

Bogoy Bogdanov

Agile Coach

Bogoy is an experienced Agile Coach, speaker and trainer. He enjoys helping companies, teams and individuals grow continuously and at a sustanable pace. His courses and talks are inspiring to professionals who want to learn from the best.

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