Mr. Sinek, it’s time to update the Golden Circle

Why in rapidly changing world we start with WHO

Dear Mr. Sinek, it must be seven years ago that I have seen your TEDx video about the Golden Circle. I must have seen it twenty times at least. I know the text almost by heart. It was a video that showed me how to tell a story. It was also a video that showed me how “WHAT”, “HOW” and “WHY” are related to each other. It was in a time that people started to notice the importance of a clear purpose as a guiding principle. That video inspired millions and changed how people look at business for good.

After the release of the Golden Circle the world continued to change. These last seven years the world changed a lot. The speed of innovation is increasing. Technology is having a field day eating the world as we knew it. Large organizations are faced with a continuously changing context. Every morning the CEO stands up, his or her world is changed yet again.

It also made organizations require to develop a new muscle. A muscle to transform or to regenerate themselves. Innovation Labs. Accelerators and Incubators spawned out of these organizations.

The last seven years we also have seen the Gig economy blossom. We have seen the explosion of the Start-up industrial complex. Also millions and millions new independent professionals and freelancers have entered the market. For these segments the world feels even more volatile. The waves hit them hard. All together a very different market place.

If you wake up and you find yourself in a world that does not make sense anymore, the first thing you do is to understand your relation to this world. You try to find your place. It requires you to recalibrate, redefine yourself and consequently your business. Many of my friends I see going through this process. They let go on a systemic level from one world and step into another. An HR professional that became a Yoga instructor, a Business consultant that opened a Coffeeshop. A manager that became a writer. An animator that becomes a consultant.

The key word here is relation.

We are all part of system that provides for us. A system that keeps us safe. For a large enterprise this system encompasses their customers, partners, employees and suppliers. For a young start-up it is family, fools and friends. Their is always a system that you are a part of. Changes in that system due to for example technological advances can impact your relation to that system. Maybe the change triggers you to suddenly take care for your system. Maybe it triggers you to become rebellious against the system. With my company we have identified 16 roles that define how we relate ourselves to our system. These are very archetypical roles that we take on. Roles like the protector, the warrior, the caregiver, the jester, the rebel.

In a world that does not change so much, your identity is clear. In such a world your system is clear. Companies have a long lifecycle and people stayed loyal to the companies they worked for.

Currently changes in our world are so disruptive and systemic in nature. It does not only change your role it changes the complete system you were a part of. Think about the truck driver that will be excluded out of the system in a couple of years by self driving trucks. We live in a world where roles and even systems are constantly being made obsolete. In the same time new roles and systems emerge. Now imagine companies, start-ups, teams and people being separated from the system, without a role to fulfill. Fired by technology so to say. This is a scenario companies, start-ups, teams and persons will encounter more and more in their lives.

As systems are disrupted it leaves millions and millions of people without a clear WHO. It is impossible to answer the WHY if you don’t know WHO you are. That makes WHO come before WHY. This was never a very relevant question to answer, but now in this world it is.

So Mr. Sinek in a world that changes as quick as ours it all doesn’t start with WHY. It starts with WHO. We first need to know who we are before we can take on our role. Let alone act it out. On an organizational, team or personal level. In a world that changes as much as ours we cannot make, create or buy our way out we need to become something else.

Like the quote from Notorious B.I.G.: “We can only change the world if we can change ourselves”.

Mr. Sinek that is why I with the fullest respect I would like to suggest to update the Golden Circle with one additional circle and one small word: WHO!

Disclosure: Raimo van der Klein is CEO of Teamily. With their product TEAMDRIVER they guide people to the right challenges and roles.