Golden Circle Canvas

Use this tool when:

  • You want to come up with a vision statement and ‘rallying cry.


Time± 45 minutes
Difficulty3 / 5
People3 - 5
AuthorErik van der Pluijm
License CC BY SA 4.0

What is it and when should I use it?

Coming up with a vision statement and ‘rallying cry’ is often the hardest part of defining your vision. To do it, start with the following exercise, using the Golden Circle Canvas based on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.

Tool Overview

  1. What? The concrete activities you are employing.

  2. How? How you do those activities.

  3. Why? Why you do those activities. The reason your organization exists.


1 Collect

Put the Golden Circle canvas on the wall, and hand your team a stack of post it notes. Set an alarm for 5–10 minutes. Ask the team to come up with things that define the company in the future state (1, 2 or 5 years in the future). Ask them to write down as many things as they can come up with that they find important about the company or the product on post-it notes.

2 Categorize

Once the timer rings, have each team member stick post-its on the Golden Circle canvas. Try to categorize what they came up with in ‘What’, ‘How’, and ‘Why’. If there are similar post-its, cluster them together (skip identical ideas).

3 Ask 5x 'Why?'

Now that you’ve filled the Golden Circle canvas like this, take a step back. Look at your canvas, and try to see if there is a balance between ‘What’, ‘How’, and ‘Why’ post-its. Chances are, there will be a lot more ‘What’ and ‘How’ post-its than ‘Why’ post-its.

Go over the different post-its and use the ‘5x Why’ approach to get to the deeper reasons that you find them important. Start with ‘Why is this post-it important?’, and keep drilling down, asking for the deeper reasons. Add the new answers to the Golden Circle.

4 Next Steps

The Golden Circle reflects your current ideas about your idea or startup. It can change, so revisit it every so often.

  • You have sanitized the post-its and removed all the less important or duplicate ones
  • You have asked 5x Why on the most important post-its
  • You have checked your canvas with people that were not in the meeting – do they understand it?