golden circle of light
PHOTO: Nong Vang

Over the years, many have attempted to understand and find models to explain why some companies have such a strong capability to innovate and continually develop new products and services in areas in which they were previously not involved.

One of the most popular theories put forth in recent times is Simon Sinek’s "Start with Why." Sinek believes he has found a common denominator among innovative companies and uses Apple as an example. Apple always starts with why it is doing something instead of what it is doing — which is what most companies tend to do.

Think Why, Not What

Sinek discovered that what separates the most successful companies and leaders from those less successful is they know their purpose and they consistently think, communicate and act on the basis of that purpose. They are purpose-driven. Companies such as Apple and Google can be considered in this category of companies.

The Golden Circle theory is of the utmost relevance for developing the digital workplace. Far too many opinions of the digital workplace are based around an image of countless tools and functionalities. This leads to an incorrect and ultimately counterproductive way of thinking about and acting on the development of the digital workplace. Functionalities and properties will inevitably change over time. After all, few things change as quickly as digital technology. If too much focus is dedicated to the functionality of the digital workplace, we run the risk of falling into a solution-centric and technology-centric focus instead of actively understanding and supporting the business and its goals and needs.

Instead of focusing on what the digital workplace should consist of, we need to start with defining its purpose — what we call its mission — and then how it needs to develop to best fulfill this purpose. Although it is, of course, up to each organization to define the exact purpose of the digital workplace, in practice, we believe it always revolves around supporting new digital ways of working and empowering employees to find smarter ways of working together. 

So the question remains: how should the digital workplace be developed to achieve this?

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Develop Your Digital Workplace, From Strategy to Design

There is a clear gap between how most organizations work and how they, in a strictly methodical sense, should strive to develop the digital workplace. You can go so far to say that this is the primary cause of the digital work environment being in such a poor condition in many organizations, and why the desired impact of internal IT investments not only fail to materialize but rather play a part in decreasing employee productivity, efficiency and innovativeness.

Organizations must try to close this proven gap. The key to success in improving employees’ digital work environment lies in what approaches the organization takes in developing it. It needs to follow a holistic, iterative and user-centric approach to developing the digital workplace, from strategy to design.

Related Article: How to Define the Digital Workplace 2030 and Why it Matters Now