To Action: A WHY To Rally Behind

A few years ago I wrote a blog post on ‘the only good thing about that long list of generic organisational values’. You know the ones – platitudes such as ‘Accountability’, ‘Integrity’, ‘Excellence’. Phrases so vague that they are almost meaningless. At best, they are just putting a word to something that any reasonable person would be expected to do as part of their day to day. In essence these values are saying ‘just act reasonably’.

As a Change Leader – part of your job is to build and rally others behind a clear, shared change WHY. What you don’t want to do is fall into that same vagueness trap.

So this week I invite you to self assess your current change WHY against the following principles.

These are the Principles of a Great WHY.

Does your WHY:

  • Paint a picture of current and future reality?
  • Connect with emotion?
  • Avoid describing WHAT needs to be done (the solution)?
  • Avoid jargon and buzz-words?

To give you an example of what I’m talking about here. Here’s an example of a generic WHY statement:

Our organisation is currently process-centric. We are restructuring and shifting to digital to become customer-centric and better support our customers.

Which, when we connect this with reality, remove the WHAT (solution) elements, and move away from buzz-words, it becomes:

While we strive for great service, the reality is that our customers are often caught up in our red-tape and are stuck with a sub-par experience. From taking 5 days to respond to email and an average wait time of 60 minutes throughout our call-centres; it’s clear we have much room for improvement. We can do better.

Tell me, which would you prefer to rally behind?

(PS. in case you were wondering – the one good thing that comes from those generic values is an excuse for risk taking. Values such as ‘boldness’ provide a cultural shield for people to take risks in even conservative environments’.)