What Are You Trying to
"What are you trying to accomplish?" This is the first question I invariably end up asking when I am in front of a client. We all know the adage, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." As a corollary, if you don't know what someone is trying to accomplish, how do you know if they're successful. You don't. It seems to be a basic premise, but many people, especially within large bureaucratic organizations, often get so lost in the details and tactics of an initiative or project or problem that they lose sight of the "forest from the trees."
Once I am satisfied with an answer to my first question, then I inevitably ask the obligatory "Why?" As much as the technique of asking "Why?" five times is talked about, it rarely seems to be used in practice. Think common sense v. common practice. In most businesses, the end of the 5 why's will eventually get you down to a variant on the following basic business conclusion: I want to add value to my customers and be able to consistently satisfy them by quickly and effectively adapting to meet their changing needs.
With that conclusion in mind, let me break down the sentence with a series of questions (Note: I would ask "why" 5x after each question as well) you can use to facilitate and engineer a solution to the basic business dilemma of satisfying your customers, which will eventually "throw off" profit to the organization.
"Quickly and Effectively"
It's clear that these questions are not inclusive, nor are they sufficient in terms of understanding the financial dynamics of the organization, but they are a good first step in starting a dialogue around customer value drivers, company adaptation, and customer wants and needs. As Peter Drucker says, the only value of a business is to create value and innovate. Without a crystal clear understanding of how the value determiners, your customers, perceive and value what you offer, the ability to effectively, profitably, and consistently meet their needs becomes an uphill battle.
Michael L. Perla is a Senior Consultant with a leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software company. This article solely represents the thoughts and opinions of Michael L. Perla, and not the company in which he is currently employed. Michael has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies in helping them to define and design their go to market strategy, build a business case, or better align their core business processes and strategic direction. In a former life, Michael worked as a School Psychologist. Michael's personal web site, including his email address, is located at http://www.michaelperla.com .