I have finally gotten around to reading Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”. As I do with most books of this type I am always looking for connections to Appreciative Inquiry and I found more than I had expected.

Mr. Sinek’s book is about what some of the most innovative organizations and transformational leaders have in common and he posits that it is the notion of starting with why.

He speaks about the three concentric circles.  The inner circle being the why, the second circle being the what and the third circle being the how.  The thing he believes great leaders and innovators, such as Steve Jobs, the Wright brothers, Martin Luther King, Jr, and others have in common is that they started with why.  Starting with why allows employees, supporters and customers to connect on a different level than those that started with what.

This caused me to think of Dan Pink’s book, “Drive, The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us” where Dan Pink speaks to the purpose-driven organization that inspires employees to engage and perform at a different level.  In my mind purpose and why are closely aligned if not the same.

If I make the connection to Appreciative Inquiry it occurs to me that the why is what we uncover in our DREAM phase.  Dreaming allows people to connect to their most desired values and outcomes.  We encourage people to imagine the greatest possible outcome of whatever our topic is.  It generates hope in participants that they can actually see a better outcome.  They understand the why.  It allows participants to connect at a different level when they generate the why of the desired change and   this releases the passion and inspiration needed to make the leap to the desired outcome.

Once people are able to see this connection, the what – the DESIGN (phase) the changes that need to be done are clear and immediate.  The inspiration unleashed in the DREAM phase, sparks the innovation and alignment necessary to achieve expectations previously thought to be impossible.   Then it strikes me that the HOW is our DESTINY phase where we identify actions and sustainable plans to see the Dream and the new DESIGNS to fruition.

I recommend Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why”.   Throughout the book I saw many concepts and perspectives that align with the beliefs and principles that we hold to be true in Appreciative Inquiry.

By: Tenny Poole

Principal, West Coast Center for Positive Change