pple is one of the most innovative and recognized companies in the world. If it was like other companies, its marketing message might be:

  • We make great computers. (WHAT)
  • They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. (HOW)
  • Wanna buy one?

However, this is how Apple actually communicates:

  • We believe in challenging the status quo in everything we do. We believe in thinking differently. (WHY)
  • The way we challenge the status quo is by making products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. (HOW)
  • Wanna buy one?

 Apple starts with WHY.

Simon Sinek developed the concept of THE GOLDEN CIRCLE to explain the distinction. WHY is an organization’s mission, purpose, or belief, the reason for being. HOW refers to the actions that are necessary to realize WHY, and embodies the values, principles, and standards of the organization. WHAT is the result of HOW such as products or services, a tangible proof of WHY. WHY remains unchanged; HOW and WHAT are flexible, adjusting to the times.

Apple operates from the INSIDE OUT, while others often work from the OUTSIDE IN. Working from the INSIDE OUT, defined by WHY, leads to sustainability; working from the OUTSIDE IN, defined by WHAT, limits what you can do for WHAT has no context (WHY).

What are the implications of THE GOLDEN CIRCLE for Adventist education? Adventist education continues to focus on the WHY: educating the whole person—spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social-emotional—with the aim of preparing learners to serve God and humanity. However, the HOW and WHAT of Adventist education are flexible, adapting to an ever-changing cultural context. Thus the need for strategic plans that serve as roadmaps for the journey; plans which start with WHY and redefine the HOW and WHAT for the times.

Read more about THE GOLDEN CIRCLE: Sinek, S. (2011). Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Penguin: New York.

Start With Why


Dr. Carol Campbell


We began our look at Adventist curriculum through the lens of standards (student, teacher, leadership, school improvement) but will zoom out in this issue to place them in the context of strategic planning.



Fall 2016