Simon Sinek on Why Language is Fundamental to Strategy Planning

In Chapter 14 of 16 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, author and public speaker Simon Sinek answers "How Do You Make Strategic Thinking More Implementation Friendly?"  To Sinek it comes down to language and the importance of using words people understand.  When the language is simple, the directive becomes clear to everyone and can be more easily followed and implemented.  Simon Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people.  His goal is to "inspire people to do the things that inspire them" and help others find fulfillment in their work.  Sinek is the author of "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action".  He works regularly with the United States Military, United States Congress, and many organizations, agencies and entrepreneurs.  Sinek is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and an adjunct staff member at the think tank RAND Corporation.  Sinek earned a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Brandeis University.

Transcript

Erik Michielsen:  How do you make strategic thinking more implementation friendly?

Simon Sinek:  Language.  Strategic thinking can be more implementation friendly when you use words that you understand. It’s amazing to me how often we read strategies that are incomprehensible. To be the pre-eminent supplier, you know, we’re gonna—I mean, what—I mean these are things that you can’t do. Based on what metric? We wanna be the best? That’s your strategy? Like that’s not a strategy. That’s nothing. We wanna be the—we wanna be ranked number one. What—revenues, profit, quality, customer satisfaction, loyalty, what? It’s complete nonsense, you know? And so the more specific a strategy can be, the clearer the language can be, the more implementable it can be.

I’m a great believer that if you speak like a scientist, only scientists will understand you, but if you speak like a truck driver, both truck drivers and scientists will understand you. And the amazing thing is if you actually speak like a scientist, even a lot of the scientists don’t understand you. The point is use very simple terminology that’s somebody who’s not in your industry who doesn’t know your business would understand what you’re trying to do. And if that’s the basis of the language that you choose to use that anyone can understand what you’re attempting to do and if you started someone tomorrow, they would be able to take the reins and go because it’s so crystal clear. That’s the standard that we need to use inside our own organizations. When the language is clear, when the language is specific, when the language is simple, it’s easy. It’s easy to implement. Right? Off the races you go, you know?