Making Sense of Creative Commons – A Collection of Resources


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

In a previous post, I discussed the idea of Creative Commons and the importance of sharing. Although many give lip service to it all, one of the challenges is where to find appropriate content. The Creative Commons site provides a range of recommendations for finding appropriate content. I have unpacked these and more:

Images

Google Images: This is often the first place that anyone goes to. There are so many options available to find the right image, such as colour, size and type. Problem is, not many people realise that most of the images that come up are copyrighted and should not be used so freely, especially in public and online. In ‘Search Tools’ you can adjust the ‘Usage Rights’. However, as Alan Levine warns, Google assumes that if a page has a Creative Commons license attached to it that all the media within is included, which is not always the case.

Flickr: An alternative to Google Images, Flickr is an image repository. Designed with two aims in mind – to make images easily available and provide a means for organising them – Creative Commons is very much at the heart of Flickr. Like Google Images, you can adjust searches in ‘Advanced’ to look for different licenses. In addition to this, there are a range of site that you can use that help find the right image. Compfight and PhotoPin are popular ones, while Photos for Class not only filters out inappropriate content (a big problem at times with Flickr), but also applies a citation to the image.

Pixabay: Unlike Flickr which collects both copyrighted and Creative Commons images, all the images at Pixabay are not only free, but do not require attribution, even for commercial applications. Frustrated with finding images, the creators made a site to collect together a wide range of images published under Creative Commons Public Domain deed CC0. The aim is to provide images that are ready to use for any project, either amateur or professional.

Unsplash – A useful repository of images that are licensed under Upsplash’s own license, which is a derivative of Creative Commons Zero, meaning that they are free to use as you like. Originally it was somewhat random. However, more recently, a search option has been added to help find what you might be looking for.

Open Clip Art Library: Like Pixabay, Open Clip Art provides a wide range of images that have been published under Public Domain. The belief is that by removing as many restrictions as possible, the clip art is able to be shared as freely and openly as possible.

Pics 4 Learning: A repository of copyright-free images for school. Although you can search, images are also organised into different collections. Only issue seems to be quality and variety.

The Noun Project: A great place for icons, the Noun Project provides a mixture of options and licenses. Sites like Credly intergrate with The Noun Project to provide a library of open images to use when creating badges.

Pic4Carto: For something different, this site allows you to search based on location. It uses the geo location information provided by various sites to bring together recent photos taken in the area.

MediaChain: An open library, which connects media to its creator and subsequent information about it. Alan Levine has elaborated on it in a bit more detail here.

For some more ideas, I recommend John Spencer’s post for a collection of sites that do not need any attribution. However, the catch is that many of these collections are not curated.

Video

Vimeo: A little bit like Pixabay, Vimeo offers a range of quality videos. In addition to this, there is a wide range of content you can search and download based on licensing.

Youtube: It is often an overlooked feature, but you can find videos on Youtube which you are able to modify and remix. This material is accessed and edited via Youtube Video Editor. The only catch is that Creative Commons CC BY license is the only option, which has its limitations.

Sounds

Soundcloud: Arguably the world’s leading social sound platform where anyone can create sounds and share them everywhere. In some respect, Soundcloud is to sound what Flickr is to images. Created by the community, you can find anything and everything from podcasts to samples. Like Flickr, you can easily search through content based on licenses. There are some interesting collections here, such as a whole lot of tracks posted by Moby for the soundtracks of non-commerical films.

Jamendo: Whereas Soundcloud is simply about sharing sounds, Jamendo is about providing music for free. Organised around genres, instruments and moods, it provides an easy way to find the right sound for the situation. One of the catches to the site is that it can be difficult to sort through tracks based on licenses, therefore you are often left checking the bottom of the page.

ccMixter: This is a community music remixing site designed to foster sharing with Creative Commons. Not only does it provide a wide array of music, samples and sound effects, but many of the tracks come split up into parts, designed to be reused.

YouTube: Like video, you can find a collection of Creative Common sounds in Youtube via Youtube Audio Library. Similar to Jamendo, you can search by genre, mood, instruments and duration. In addition to pulling pieces into your own Youtube creations, there is also the option to download them and use them elsewhere.

Freesound: A collaborative database of various Creative Commons licensed sounds, Freesound allows you to browse through sounds via tags and track names. Although you can easily listen, the only catch is that you need to create an account to download tracks.

Sound Bible: SoundBible.com offers thousands of free sound effects, sound clips, and straight up sounds. There are a number of licenses used, including copyright free material.

General

Wikimedia Commons: A part of the Wikimedia family, its purpose is to make available public domain and freely-licensed media content to everyone.  All the content is either in the public domain or meets the definition of a free cultural work. Although the search options are not as easily definable as other sites, the wealth of content makes Wikimedia a gold mine.

Europeana: A collection of cultural artefacts from all over Europe. Sourced from different galleries, libraries, archives and museums, items range from books and manuscripts, photos and paintings, television and film, sculpture and crafts, diaries and maps, sheet music and recordings. What is good is that you can easily refine searches to only include certain licenses and types of media.

Internet Archive: A non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software and music. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. As its purpose is not primarily for feeding the remix culture, if you find Creative Commons material declared you may use the content according to the terms and conditions of the applicable license. However, it can be a little finicky trying to find applicable content.


In addition to a range of websites, there is a growing trend of applications which help sources appropriate Creative Commons images for you. Some examples are Haiku Deck, Adobe Voice and Adobe Slate (all of which are also available on the iPad).

I think that Alan Levine summed up this challenge in a recent post:

How do we expect people new to coming to an understanding to make sense of all the flavors of licenses? We want school kids to make these choices? And there are people out there who want even more kinds of licenses. CC-BY-MC-GD-ER-TZ-XD?

I am not trying to tell anyone else what to do here.

But I am going back to the simplest, and frankly, I’d rather focus my energy on the sharing rather than the licensing of the sharing.

If there are sites or steps you use to help focus on sharing and less on licensing, I would love to know. As always, comments welcome.


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Introduction to Edmodo


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Edmodo is an education social networking tool. It provides a means for teachers to easily create an online space where students can connect and communicate. Some examples of some of the things that you can do with Edmodo include:

  • Set tasks and assignments: Whether it is a quick task or a bigger assignment, Edmodo allows you to easily set dates and provide information and resources. In addition to this, once submitted feedback can be provided in a timely manner. Only limitation is focus on scoring, rather than rubrics.
  • Provide links and resources: Although URL shorterners and QR codes make it easier to share long webpages, there is nothing better than simply clicking on a link. You can also provide additional materials, such as documents and images to support learning.
  • A place to respond and reflect: Along with sharing material, Edmodo provides a place for students to post and comment. There are different options associated with this and it can all be locked down by the teacher if needed. Posting can occur within a group or directly with a teacher, but never between students.
  • Include parents in learning: Parents can be provided with a group code to connect. This does not mean that they will be able to see everything, instead they are connected with their child, having access to assignments, events, alerts, direct messages and anything else you tag them in.
  • Connect with other teachers globally: An underutilised function, Edmodo provides the ability to connect with teachers in a safe and secure environment. The initial setup asks for information about subject areas, this then aligns teachers with others in their subject areas. There is a stream of information provided that allows people to share and connect. This not only provides the means for finding ideas and resources, but also for collaborating with teachers around the world.

It needs to be noted that Brookside has signed up for School Account. Not only does this help to organise things, but it prevents students from signing up as a teacher and creating their own groups.

Further Reading

Edmodo Support Site – a collection of frequently asked questions associated with every aspect of Edmodo.

Social Networking for Schools by John Pearce – a thorough presentation from John Pearce looking at all the different elements to consider when it comes to Edmodo.

Edmodo Still Has My Heart by Bianca Hewes – a reflection from a Secondary teacher on how she uses Edmodo within her classroom.

7 Steps on How to Use the New Edmodo by Blake Waldman – A collection of ‘how to’ videos associated how to do different actions within Edmodo.

Should my class blog, tweet, Google App, Moodle, Desire2Learn, or Edmodo? Arrghhh!!! by Royan Lee – A comparison of the different Learning Management Systems and social media platforms available and things to consider.


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Irresistably Engaging … for Parents Too


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

During a recent ICT planning session the age old argument was raised again, where is the promised digital revolution that everyone promised? Really, it was argued, we are not doing anything different than what we did in the past. For example, the new Digital Technologies curriculum, awaiting endorsement, calls for a focus on coding. However, it was argued by some members that this is no different to the focus on Logo in the 80’s. In response, one participant suggested that one significant change technology has brought about is the ability to communicate with parents on a more regular basis. Instead of being restricted to the usual diaries and school newsletters, technology allows schools to foster deeper connections between home and school.

I agree with Eric. I think that technology has the ability to make listening to voices both in and out of the classroom more doable. The question though is whether such messages that are enabled are always worthwhile. In his book Open, David Price discusses this problem, saying:
Most parents, I believe, would prefer to know about their child’s confidence, their sense of well- being, their capacity for independent thought, or their ability to ask critical questions – the language of milky coffee. Instead, parents only know the language of black coffee, because that’s all they hear. Are they on target for good grades? Are they getting enough homework? What were their last test scores?

For whatever reason, schools often use new mediums to provide same old information. Complaining that parents do not read printed reports, some believe that making them accessible digitally somehow makes them different. I am not so sure. Although it can be easy to blame parents, if we do not give them a reason to engage, can we blame parents when they do not show any interest?In a conversation about education reform on Twitter, Alan Thwaites shared a documentary video including the usual voices, such as Sir Ken Robinson, Tony Wagner and Thomas Friedman.

Education Documentary Clip from One Potato Productions on Vimeo. Although many of the arguments were not necessarily new, what stood out to me was the discussion of High Tech High and project based learning. For the culmination of the project, students had to present what they made to the community at an information night. I know showcasing student work is nothing new, but there just seemed to be something different about what was happening in the video. Maybe that it seemed more authentic than usual, with students enthusiastic about their work. Or maybe it was the space that was created. Whatever it was, parents seemed to be genuinely interested.

Coming back to the planning session, there were many quotes bandied around to create conversation and spur us on. One that stuck out was Michael Fullen’s discussion of technology in Stratosphere, where he states:

New developments must be:
i) irresistibly engaging (for students and for teachers);
ii) elegantly efficient and easy to use;
iii) technologically ubiquitous 24/7; and
iv) steeped in real-life problem solving.
What stood out in this quote was the reference to students and teachers in the discussion of ‘irresistibly engaging’. I was left wondering, what about parents? Don’t they have a part to play in all of this, shouldn’t developments be irresistibly engaging for them too? Are they not important?

Too often when it comes to involving parents in schools it seems to be a one way transaction, simply focusing on informing them:

  • Putting on chalk and talk information sessions for technology
  • Publishing digital newsletters discussing what has been going on
  • Sending texts and emails to parents when a child is absent
  • Providing access to academic and behavioural results online
  • Advertising school events and information on public webpages
  • Putting on showcase events once a semester to celebrate students work and achievements

Many of these things are simply substitutions, with little augmentation. While coming back to Fullan’s argument, I question whether they are irresistibly engaging.

Reconsidering the list and thinking about how they could be changed, here are some ideas:

  • Developing information sessions that are co-constructed and incorporate the practise in question, as Jon Andrews has done when introducing PBL to parents
  • Having year levels/classrooms openly publishing a blog celebrating learning
  • Engaging with parents in regards to supporting goals and homework, as Alan Thwaites has done using Compass as a means of dialogue
  • Provide parents with live updates about student activities, as Andy Hair has done using Google Hangouts during sporting carnivals
  • Publish student work online and showcase to the world, as Bec Spink has done when creating eBooks and putting them on iTunes
  • Engage the wider community using video conferencing, as Alan November has done by Skyping grandparents from overseas into the classroom

Each of these ideas and activities involve a modification of practise, but also in regards to mindsets. Many of these mediums provide the potential for parents to comment, ask questions and provide their thoughts. For some, this is fraught with danger. What if this or what if that. Such fear and trepidation though gets us nowhere. As Price points out, the world is going SOFT whether we like it or not, the question then is how we are going to embrace it. For me, it starts by fostering a culture of trust.


The reality is, many parents work irregular hours and do not necessarily always have the time to participate the way that we would like them to. The ideal of 9 til 5 is fast becoming a figment of the past. However, technology makes connections and communications that were previously not necessarily possible. Maybe there are schools already embracing such changes, if so I would love to know, please share. Or maybe ‘engagement’ is a poor metric, as Richard Olsen has suggested. Having said all this, we must always remember to never loose the human element. As always, comments welcome.

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Doing the Right Thing


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

The other day, I had the opportunity to attend a session run by Department of Education and Training (DET) exploring EDUSTAR and looking at ICT planning. The program came about after a government audit found that although over time schools have been provided with adequate software and hardware, there has been little growth in regards to pedagogical practise and growth.

What was interesting was the message that there is no expectation about where schools are to be in regards to eLearning. Every school is a different context. Data and analytics is gathered through various surveys and censuses to create a unique story. The reason there is no benchmark is that technology should not be a competition, focusing on which schools have what, instead it is about what practises schools have in place. For some this might mean 1-to-1, while for others it might be something different. It all depends upon the outcomes that are trying to by achieved. For as Michael Fullan states, “pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator”. The question though is what are we driving towards?

What was interesting is that although there was no benchmark for technology, again and again reference was made to the notion of ‘best results’. It is summed up in the comment from a fellow participant who said, “if you are getting the ‘best results’ in the state, then you are doing the right thing.” This got me wondering whether technology is often canned because it does not actually cater for the results that are often focused on by schools through annual implementation plans and NAPLAN results. In a recent post, Richard Olsen’s touched on the importance of what we measure and how we do it, that ‘success’ is not always as obvious as it seems. This reminded me also of Yong Zhao’s argument that we often measure the wrong thing. Instead of focusing on such traits as creativity and entrepreneurship, we focus on prescribed content and compliance. Where this difference stood out the most is through the discussion of an eLearning vision.

The School ICT Progression Strategy is about supporting schools in generating a plan, creating a vision and setting goals. Although an improvement on before, to me there is still an elephant in the room. That of pedagogy. With every state school in Victoria supposedly mandated to have a clearly defined instructional model and continuing to use measurements associated with compliance to ascertain success, what is often overlooked is how eLearning marries with pedagogical practise. You can have as many c’s as you like in a vision, but if this is not linked with what is actually happening in the classroom then what is the point? Fine, technology has the potential to make what we have been doing more doable, as Bill Ferriter has suggested, but I question whether such processes as critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of every teacher’s practise? For some it is tests, recall and maintenance of an essentialist curriculum.

Paul Tozer once remarked to me, “what is valued by the system needs to change if what is happening in the classroom is to change.” I am not sure if that means a revolution, reform or renaissance, but something needs to change if we are really to get the best results for all learners. Although counting how many computers schools have in the classroom can be helpful for some, I am not sure if this is the right thing school’s are looking for?


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Improving Staff Morale


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Schools can be a thankless place at times. Therefore, maintaining a positive approach to things can sometimes be challenging. Jason Borton recently reflected on the steps he has put in place at his school to improve staff well-being. Some of the things included:

– Family Friendly Week once a term with no after school meetings. Staff are encouraged to leave by 4pm each day this week.
– Fruit supplied weekly by the school for the staffroom to provide a healthy snack option
– Foam rollers provided for staff to use for low-impact exercise
– Weekly after school fitness sessions provided by an external provider and funded as part of the school professional learning budget
– A commitment by all staff to providing healthy options for all staff morning teas/lunches etc
– Agreed work hours to avoid excessive workload
– Engage a massage therapist from the Canberra Institute of technology (TAFE) for staff massage
– Purchase a smoothie machine for staff use
– Broker a deal with Active Leisure Centre gym for discount staff memberships
– Subscribe to the Happy Schools weekly newsletter

Although what Jason has done is fantastic, sometimes the challenge of maintaining morale can be easier said than done.

My approach is to address the small things. I may not be able to organise gym memberships or influence work hours, but I can place a smile on people’s faces. For example, I started this term by giving each staff member in my office a Lego mini figure. I am not sure if it is the reminder of childhood or the seemingly silly nature of it all, but there is something about Lego which always makes people smile. Releasing endorphins into the brain (without the calories of chocolate!)

There are many ways to improve staff morale, however sometimes the smallest things can be the most meaningful. As Steve Brophy pointed out in a recent post,

An impromptu morning tea, an email to a staff member to thank them for their efforts, a kind word or an after work shout can all lead to improved morale.

So what about you, what are you doing? If you are struggling, Angela Stockman has compiled a fantastic list of simple acts of kindness.


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Learning Subjectives


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

So here we are again. Learning. Together. I signed up, saw the tweets, read some posts, received the email. I didn’t think that I’d be able to make it, but here I am, wondering once again, what does it all mean. So it begins, once again, with a curious question without a mark, a short phrase. “Learning Subjectives”. Here then are my thoughts, for what they are worth.

To me learning subjectives is:

  • Where learning is the focus
  • Sometimes ignored, often stifled
  • Making, adapting and remixing
  • Grown in many ways: cuttings, seeds, roots
  • Open to choice, but we must always choose
  • Influenced and encouraged by space
  • Full of compromise and negotiation
  • Not easily, if ever, assessed
  • Personally connected

So there we have it, my first post. Feels incomplete, but maybe it always is. Anyway, good to be back. Did we ever leave?


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A Picture Tells a Thousand Words – Thinglink and Storytelling


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

There are many ways to tell a story. I have touched on different aspects in the past, such as the reason for my title and my avatar image. However, one aspect that I have not touched on is my banner. The image of my desk and the story that it tells.

Here then is my attempt an an explanation using Thinglink:

So what about you, what are the image that tell your story? I would love to know.


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What the Conference Are You On About?


creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs

This weeks #youredustory topic is to describe your ideal conference. Having written about this topic a before touching upon the topics of people, participation and hidden PD, I will just elaborate here on the three elements that I want out of a ‘conference’ experience:

  • IDEAS: I want there to be interesting and challenging themes and ideas, presented in a contemporary manner. Conferences should not be about the status quo, they should be a little confrontational, they should disrupt, shake things up, all with an eye on improving learning. This I think is sometimes inhibited by the fact that applications for sessions are taken months (if not years) in advance, as well as the tendency to stand and deliver.
  • CONNECTIONS: An important part of new ideas comes about through forming new connections. Dean Shareski argues that coming away with five new connections is more important than coming away with five new tools or ideas. I think that the challenge is to create the write conditions for this to occur. This includes the right environment, as well as structuring different activities. For example, DLTV had a makerspace at last years conference. To me this worked for I was not only able to make and do, but I was able to chat with different people while doing this.
  • ACTION: In addition to being hands on and practical, I want the opportunity to do something meaningful. I understand that 45 minutes can be limiting, but at the very least there should be the possibility to continue to continue the ideas and connections afterwards. Maybe this is a collaborative space or shared resources.

So they are a few of my ideas about conferences. I could have written a list of ‘dream’ keynotes and presentation topics, however I think that such fixed mindset overlooks the most important ingredient of them all. The most important ingredient to any conference is an openness and eagerness to learn. The question though that I am left wondering is why wait for a conference? This is something that Tom Whitby has touched upon elsewhere, I recommend reading it.

So what about you? What is your ideal conference expereince? I would love to know? As always, comments welcome.


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How SOFT Are You?


creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs

I recently started reading David Price’s book OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future. After extracts, reviews and recommendations I entered wondering what he would have to add to the debate about education. What interested me about Price was that, along with others like Graham Brown-Martin, his take on the future of education did not come via the usual teacher, turned academic, come consultant. Instead it was a bit more indirect. Such a point of view helps by bringing an outsiders perspective, rather than being caught up within schools and politics. It is a focus on learning, something not constrained to the classroom. Questioning what it is and what it maybe in the future.

Many of Price’s thoughts and observations touch upon various facets of society, pointing out that things are not always as the seem. One of the ideas though that really stood out was the notion of SOFT. When I first saw it mentioned I thought that Price was going to touch upon Thomas Friedman’s analysis of what matters in the 21st century are soft skills, such as leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. However, this is not what Price means by SOFT.

For Price, SOFT is an acronym standing for four inter-connected, consequental values which he sees as integral for being open in the the 21st century.

  • SHARE: Whether it be adding ideas to a wiki or posting an update on Facebook, sharing involves connecting and collaborating  with others. There are two key characteristics to sharing, the speed at which knowledge is able to spread and the ability to work together to take action.
  • OPEN: Whether it be providing corporate data online or living life through social media, open is about being transparent. What is interesting is that for many it is something we have taken to whether we were aware or not, some are just more radical than others.
  • FREE: The notion of free includes such things as the value of knowledge, the consumption (and production) of digital goods, as a business model, the ability to fail and an entitlement. Many of these examples are about mindsets and adjusting existing models to add free into them.
  • TRUST: For each of the other elements of SOFT to work, they depend upon trust. When we read an update on social media, we trust that our friends are being honest. When data is provided openly online, we trust that it would not be used to undermine us. When we foster a culture of prosumers (producers and consumers), we trust that people we at least provide attribute when content is made available through Creative Commons licences. When trust is stripped away, we are usually simply left with accountability, this is particularly true of schools.

In many respects, Price’s description of SOFT touches upon David Weinberger’s ideas about networked, society, where just because you are in the room, it does not make you smart. The warning is that going SOFT is now inevitable. It has allowed us to take control of our lives and make decisions which were often left to the experts in the past. As Price states:

It’s simply inevitable that, having helped shape how we now live, and work, these values will become central to how we learn. Embedding SOFT values into innovative learning environments is not without its dangers. Giving employees and learners greater freedom demands greater responsibility. Being transparent may provide disgruntled employees with the means to act maliciously. But we have to learn how to adapt, and we have to adapt how we learn. As W.E. Deming once said ‘Learning isn’t compulsory…neither is survival’. (Page 74)

So how are you adapting and learning in the 21st century? More importantly though, how SOFT are you?


 

For those interested, here are a couple of resources unpacking David Price’s book in more detail:


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Leadership Starts with Why – A Review of Simon Sinek’s #StartWithWhy


creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs

Simon Sinek believes that the reason many of us do not get very far when we approach a new problem, whether it be going on a diet, starting a new business or introducing technology in the classroom, is because we have got our priorities all wrong. Too often the focus of our attention is on what we need to do. This could be to lose weight, ship a new product or get devices into every classroom. All too often such actions fail to last because although we think we know what we need to do, our reason for doing so is either missing or unclear. As Sinek points out,

You can get someone to buy a gym membership with an aspirational message, but to get them to go three days a week requires a bit of inspiration

Although fear and manipulation may get the job done once or twice, for long lasting change and innovation you need trust, loyalty and inspiration. This is what Sinek means by the title of his book, Start With Why.

At the heart of Sinek’s argument is the concept of the golden circle. Where most people begin with the what, dictating how we do things and hopefully why we do it. The golden circle is about working in reverse, from the inside out. Everything starts with why.


creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Gavin Llewellyn

The catch is that a why is not something that you simply invent, rather it is something discovered through deep reflection. Our why is the thing that gets us up in the morning, what we actually care about, what cause we are a part of. Once that is worked out, the focus then is to bring all our actions back to this. As Sinek states:

It is not just WHAT or HOW you do things that matters; what matters more is that WHAT and HOW you do things is consistent with your WHY. (Page 186)

Sinek supports his idea about the golden circle with evidence from biology. In the brain are two sections which relate to action and decision making: the neocortex and the limbic brain. The neocortex is analytical and responsible for language, whereas the limbic brain is responsible for feelings, such as trust and loyalty. The catch is the limbic brain has no capacity for language, it communicates instead through the neocortex via gut feelings and intuition. Those decisions which we think are right, but have no rationale way of explaining it. As Sinek explains:

Our limbic brains are smart and often know the right thing to do. It is our inability to verbalize the reasons that may cause us to doubt ourselves or trust the empirical evidence when our gut tells us not to. (Page 63)

Although we may think that with the right evidence all decisions can be rationally decided upon,  at the end of the day, there are some choices which are irrational and made emotionally. It is for this reason that it is important, in any circumstance, to start with why. This not only provides clarity of understanding, but the confidence to move forward without fear and doubt.

The role of the leader then is to create the right environment. One where people are trusted and inspired to drive great ideas. The problem, such things can be difficult without an agreed purpose formed collaboratively. This why, as Sinek points out, is not something that is simply decided in an organisation by those with hierarchical power, instead it is led and supported in an organic manner. As he explains:

Trust comes from being a part of a culture or organization with a common set of values and beliefs. Trust is maintained when the values and beliefs are actively managed. (Page 121)

This comes back to the distinction between those who lead compared to those who manipulate. To lead then is to inspire through charisma and support, not to manipulate through fear and control.

What is weird about Starting With Why is that, like Carol Dweck’s Mindsets, once known it seems so obvious. The challenge with why is to maintain focus, for it is one thing to start with why once, but to maintain the focus day after day, year after year, that is the real challenges.

For a great introduction into Simon Sinek’s ideas, watch his great TED Talk:


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