The power of the WHY?

Brian Monaco
Vice President of Best Practices

Why is the WHY so important?

Who, What, Where, When and WHY… the 5 W’s we all learned in grade school. The questions we ask when solving a problem. What the teachers didn’t tell is how important the WHY is.

I know when I was younger, anytime I asked WHY, it was the hardest thing for adults to answer. “Because you have to”, “Because I said so”, “You need to do it or else”, were some of the answers I received. Not fully understanding the power of Why, sometimes I would do what I was asked to and sometimes I decided not to do it to see what would happen. There were times things didn’t go so well and I didn’t know why? What I have learned is how important WHY is.

I have learned over the years that for a project to be successful more focus needs to be put on the WHY. If your company is currently on or thinking about starting a Workforce Management (WFM) journey I urge you to stop and think about the WHY. Not only the WHY regarding taking the journey but the WHY for everyone affected by the journey. Answering the WHY means knowing the end result. Knowing what the goal or target is will be important to obtaining it, but why the goal is set is what connects all the pieces.

Here are 3 C’s that helped me articulate the WHY when executing corporate initiatives.

Communication, Culture, Change Management

Communication of the WHY needs to happen at the start of the journey. It then needs to be communicated throughout the journey with regular re-enforcement. Two-way and bottom up communication is needed in case anyone loses sight of the WHY.

Culture in a company is like the heartbeat of the company. A strong, honest and open culture with no sacred cows is most likely to succeed. They have the culture that everyone and everything matters.

Change management – this is arguably the hardest part of any project. Identifying the change needed (the WHY) is much easier than instituting the change. Stay the course… Long term sustainment… the stickiness of the change… Call it what you want but it is hard to accomplish. Why is it so hard?

Time try something fun. Everyone fold your arms in front of you. Everyone has their way to fold their arms. There is no right or wrong way to do it. But everyone does it their way every time. Now I ask you to fold your arms the other way. The hand that is tucked under now must go over the arm and the one that is over must be tucked under. Sounds simple and it is simple when you think about it. You are just folding your arms a different way. I bet some of you struggled and some of you may have had to try it a couple of times before you got it right. Once you were able to do it I’m sure it felt weird or unnatural to you.

How many of you went back to folding your arms your natural way already? I bet most of you did because I didn’t give the reason WHY you needed to fold your arms differently. This is what happens to projects that fail. Without the WHY everyone goes back to what’s natural to them or how they have always done it.

If you are thinking about your WHY think about it as your motivating factor for everyone involved.