What makes a great gaming enterprise great? The question of what differentiates an excellent organization from the corporate white noise has been a topic of discussion among business leaders and company owners since commerce began. In Fortune Magazine surveys year after year, companies like Apple, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Berkshire Hathaway, Disney, General Electric, Southwest Airlines, Facebook and Microsoft rise to the top as the most admired companies in the United States. What differentiates these outstanding companies from their competitors in the same industry?
The British/American author and marketing consultant Simon O. Sinek, tells us great companies concentrate the bulk of their internal and external organizational strategies around the Why rather than the What. In his book, “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” Sinek proposes that less successful organizations spend the bulk of their corporate energy addressing what the company does for internal and external stakeholders instead of emotionally connecting with employees and customers. “Very few people or companies can clearly articulate why they do what they do,” Sinek said. The Why is your purpose, cause or belief. Why does your company exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care?”
A successful casino or regulatory agency starts and ends with engaged and committed employees. Employee loyalty is established when people emotionally connect with the mission and goals of the organization. According to Sinek, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” In other words, passion for your product or service is contagious, and employees who are passionate about the company they work for will help develop passionate and loyal customers.
Most companies approach potential customers by describing the characteristics of their product or service and its advantages over competitors’ similar products and services. Most appeal to logical thinking versus emotions to convince the potential customer to finalize a purchase. Gaming companies fill the floor with the latest and greatest games available, market the games by describing their features and pay-outs, then wait for the masses to flock through the doors. We occasionally use analytics of game play to tell us which games customers prefer.
The problem with the usual corporate strategy, according to Sinek, is that most of us make purchase decisions based on emotion rather than rational logic. The decision to sign the contract and finalize the deal, or patronize one casino over another, must feel right to the customer. What does feeling right mean? It has more to do with the customer’s understanding of why the business does what it does, rather than the rational, technical aspects of the product or service.
To emphasize this dynamic, Sinek has coined the term, “The Golden Circle” where he explains the emphasis of emotion over logic in a potential customer’s decision-making process. The Golden Circle, like the brain itself, is divided into three parts, suggests Sinek.
- The What comprises the outer Circle. It is the rational, logical detail portion of the brain and the Circle. It is where many companies concentrate most energy in convincing potential customers to purchase products or services. Fact sheets, graphic displays, game offerings, ancillary products and services are presented in the outer portion.
- How makes up the middle, and it is closely associated with the What. The How describes the method, strategies and processes used to produce the What.
- Why is the innermost Circle. This is where emotion, gut feelings and intuition operate. This part of the brain, as Sinek describes, has no capacity for language so it is hard for people, when they feel uncomfortable in a business situation, to put that uncomfortable feeling or lack of emotional connection to the vendor of a product or service into words. The most they can muster is that the product or service being offered just doesn’t feel right. As Sinek concisely puts it, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
In his TED Talks presentation video, Sinek offers several examples of innovative companies and individuals who demonstrated the ability to make that emotional, almost visceral, connection with their employees and customers. He says these companies persevere, despite what appeared to be insurmountable odds, and outperform the competition.
“Put bluntly, the struggle that so many companies have to differentiate or communicate their true value to the outside world is not a business problem, it’s a biology problem,” Sinek said. “And just like a person struggling to put her emotions into words, we rely on metaphors, imagery and analogies in an attempt to communicate how we feel. Absent the proper language to share our deep emotions, our purpose, cause or belief, we tell stories. We use symbols. We create tangible things for those who believe what we believe to point to and say, ‘That’s why I’m inspired.’ If done properly, that’s what marketing, branding and products and services become; a way for organizations to communicate to the outside world. Communicate clearly and you shall be understood.
“I have used The Golden Circle when presenting to gaming regulatory managers and chief executives of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. I suggest effective strategies strengthen relationships by appealing to Why each does what it does rather than What. The Why is so much more important and effective, I tell my audiences.”
For gaming regulators, the Why helps gaming establishments avoid penalties and fines.
When regulators take the time to explain the Why concerning enforced regulations rather than the adverse consequences of non-compliance, casino operators are more likely to follow the rules and work as partners with gaming regulators.
For law enforcement, the Why prevents citizens from being hurt or victimized, ensures the safety of children and the elderly, and secures the homes, businesses and property of our community members.
The salient point for gaming regulatory managers and law enforcement leaders is, as Sinek puts it, “We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.” This same point applies in the business world.
The gaming regulatory agency able to establish the connection with casino management around the Why in regulatory implementation is important. It builds a passion for accountability, integrity and compliance. It is much more effective than the all too common us-versus-them mindset. Gaming regulatory agencies that employ the Why are more likely to have greater success in accomplishing the goals of the enterprise. The casino that is able to stimulate the passion of Why among the property’s employees will see that passion translated into excellent customer service. Its staff members who go above and beyond will make customers feel special and invaluable.
The concepts of The Golden Circle work just as effectively in public service agencies as in the business world, particularly the gaming industry. Whether the business is a Fortune 500 company, an international multi-property gaming corporation, a government organization or the small neighborhood card room, customer loyalty and the reason for our professional existence depends on our ability to make that emotional connection with the people behind the Why we do what we do.