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Know What You Want to Achieve

start with why. then ask it again and again

One of my team members posed a question over a Zoom call. “The client said something about capturing other people while we had the camera, backdrop, and videographer on site. What do you think about that?”

Without hesitation (and with my usual bluntness), I responded, “What’s the point?”

He paused. I decided to expand.

“Is there a reason that we’re capturing other people? Is there a specific video they have in mind or a broader objective they’re trying to achieve?

If we know that, then we can be more specific about who we interview and what questions we ask so that they end up with footage they can use instead of a terabyte of data sitting on a hard drive somewhere.”

If you’ve sat at your desk (or on your couch or wherever you work) feeling like you’re trying to force something to fit, you’re not alone.

Many projects start this way. They’re tactics without a point that may or may not prove productive at the end.

When presented with a project proposal, a new idea, or a budget request, ask why. Then ask why again and again.

There’s a rule that says it takes 5–7 whys to get to the root reason. I don’t know that you always need 5–7, but you should ask until you have a reason you can really put your hands around — like a sticky-fingered kid with a new stuffed animal.

Let’s look at implementing a new piece of technology. When you know the reason behind why you’re implementing it, your selection process will be more focused, the right people will be in the room to assess the potential effectiveness of each option, and you’ll judge the success of the effort against the right definition of success (in case you were wondering, just having the shiny new thing probably isn’t it.)

Having a reason enables you to more strategically invest your time, as well as learn so that you can refine and do better.

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Originally published at on February 28, 2022.




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Katie Burkhart

Katie Burkhart

Putting a point on business 🟡 | Entrepreneur Contributor | Serial Entrepreneur | Not-a-Book Author | Keynote Speaker | Minimalist Designer | Jargon Slayer

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