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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

The Most Focusing WHY Question for Leaders and Visionaries


Start with Why is a best selling book and one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time. Simon Sinek introduces the concept in the context of marketing but the importance of ‘starting with WHY’ applies to all dimensions of communications, management, and leadership.

The WHY question is one of incredible utility.

This nugget is about moving from utility to power (i.e. GREATEST IMPACT and FOCUS) through more nuanced WHY questions.

There are dozens of ‘WHY’ questions. To name a handful…

  • Why (are we doing this)?
  • What is our purpose?Note: Do not be fooled. ‘What is our purpose’ is a WHY QUESTION.
  • What’s our mission?
  • What’s our reason for existence? Raison d’etre?
  • What’s our cause? Or, for WHAT do we stand?

The reason we use the Altitude Framework is because it represents ALL of these questions (at 30,000′). The mental picture here is that of a kaleidoscope; depending on which way you turn the WHY question you’re going to get a slightly different picture at 30,000′.

In the WHY kaleidoscope, one question consistently has the greatest power to focus and guide:

TOWARD WHAT END?

This question sharpens the WHY. It takes it somewhere.

Toward what end does your organization exist?
We want to start a new program. Toward what end?

Communication is an art. To land on the right clarity and communication, leaders should play around with the entire ‘WHY-kaleidoscope’. If one WHY question isn’t teasing out enough power, or focus, shift to another question.

Start with: Toward what end?