A few weeks ago I was lent a copy of the book Start with Why. The ideas around the use of manipulation vs inspiration to change human behavior is one of the ideas that struck a chord with me thus far. Looking at companies today, there is a clear differentiation in the way that organizations position themselves based upon where they fall with when using manipulation vs inspiration.


These are the companies that get the best employees, deliver innovative solutions, and much of the time have higher margins and growth compared to competitors. How is this achieved? You guessed it. They have a great and inspiring vision of why they do what they do.

spacex mission.PNG

This vision and end goal above is lofty, and certainly something the people (especially rocket designers) can aspire to. Having such a vision for where the company is headed has apparently worked to Spacex’s advantage. Spacex has managed to steal significant market share from the much older Arianespace. There there must be something behind Spacex’s success.


The focus on a lofty vision of “why” an organization does what is does not only drives profits, but also clear and concise decision making and motivations for all who are involved with the company. Driving behavior towards a goal that is inspiring and internally motivated is much more effective in the long-term  compared to manipulations.


Price, promotions, fear, aspirations. These are the tactics that are potential changers of human behavior. When making use of these strategies, a company has most likely lost sense of why it exists. The reason for this? When a company is offering to cut price, or market to customer aspirations, there is no longer an internal motivating factor that drives the company. The company compass for decision making has been lost.

The great (or terrible depending on your perspective) example of this is General Motor’s use of promotions to drive sales. In the 1990’s General Motors, along with other US auto manufacturers relied on offering of sales incentives to retain market share when faced by an onslaught of foreign automakers. By taking this route, the US automakers effectively weakened their brands. This may have allowed the automakers to retain higher market share short-term, but it obviously didn’t help the long-term growth and profitability of the company.

Manipulations create addictions for companies that may create some short-term value, but it is at the expense of harming the organization in the long-term. The more fear, promotions, prices cuts, and aspirations a company uses to sell products the cheaper the brand perception will be.

Bottom line, knowing why a company exists provides in internal locus of control which has been proven to be a motivating force compared to the use of manipulations. There’s a reason that Apple customer’s pay more than a 20% premium compared to competitor products, and it’s due to knowing why.

One thought on “Inspiration vs Manipulation

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