Simon Sinek probably isn’t a new name to a lot of people who may read this; nor, potentially, is his “Golden Circle” popularising the concept of “why”. But ever since Spikeheel Starr pointed me towards his TED presentation made last year (and now apparently the 19th most-viewed video on TED.com), I’ve found the ideas he expresses fascinating.
For one thing, I cannot help but agree with his example of Apple. This is a company that people like or loathe. Customers are intensely loyal and remain so, no matter what happens to dent the company’s reputation. Apple continue to top the charts with their products, despite the fact that – really – there is nothing that is that technically innovative about them. Why? Because Simon Sinek is right about their approach. It was apparent over 25 years ago, and it’s still apparent today. Take the famous Apple “1984” ad; it’s a visual demonstration of what Mr. Sinek is describing in first half of his talk: it’s an advert that creates aspirational desire, in this case using a positive vision of non-conformity.
Even today, the iPhone AirPlay ads may well have the “what” more obviously placed, but the appeal of wanting AirPlay really comes from the “We’ve done this, wouldn’t you like to have the ability to do it to?” subtext of the ad.
The Law of Diffusion
Further into his talk, Mr. Sinek touches on the law of diffusion of innovations, which caused me to think about Second Life.
In 2008, Mitch Kapor gave an address at SL5B in which he referred to the same law, and particularly the matter of what Geoffrey Moore refers to as crossing the chasm – moving a product from the status of early adoption to its use by an early majority (or “pragmatists”, as Mr. Kapor preferred to call them).
However, in his presentation, Mr. Kapor appeared to turn the issue of crossing the chasm entirely on its head. To him, it would appear that the early adopters – the “pioneers”, as Mr. Kapor called them – were anathema to SL’s future growth.
Yet, as Mr. Sinek points out – and Moore understood – the fact is that without the early adopters, the early majority will not actually follow-on and adopt the product.
In short, by suggesting the early adopters might need to stand aside, Mitch Kapor appeared to completely miss an opportunity – as LL itself did, as I’ve previously noted.
And it is here, while watching Simon Sinek, that I again feel a renewed hope for Second Life – and more particularly, Linden Lab. Why?
Because everything that appears to be coming out of Linden Lab does now appears to be geared towards crossing their chasm in a manner Moore recommends and Sinek indicates: by leveraging their existing user-base.
Anyone attending the Lab’s presentations at SLCC this year cannot fail to have noticed this; all of them were, in one way or another, focused on the user community as a whole. Both Mark Viale (Viale Linden) and Brett Attwood (Brett Linden) in particular gave insight into LL’s change in philosophy that stands to benefit the user community and the company equally well.
In this respect, something has changed within Linden Lab over the course of this year; and it’s pretty obvious that – and I say this without any desire to sound like a fangirl – the “something” in question is Rod Humble.
Rod Humble embodies much of what Simon Sinek discusses about good leadership. Hearing him speak at SLCC and elsewhere and when reading interviews he’s given, Rod Humble unabashedly talks about his personal beliefs. It doesn’t matter whether the subject under discussion is Second Life or on matter of virtual identity; he strikes that emotive chord that resonates within us.
In short: he inspires trust.
It’s why we like Rod Humble. More than that – it’s why we need him right where he is.