How to Clarify Objective & Strategy with the “Because Test”

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The right way to start a conversation, a meeting, an idea, a
project, or a company is with the right objective. Unfortunately it doesn’t
always start this way.

I thought Dell folks were pretty good at starting with
objectives until I got my Six Sigma green belt and started to see things
through a DMAIC lens (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control). It was
amazing how many meetings started with the “Improve” phase immediately, before
we had properly defined, measured or analyzed the problem. We were still
successful through execution and correction, but we could be better.

Test if you’re starting with the right
objective by using the word ‘because’. Simply add the word ‘because’ after you
describe your objective.

For example, I hear marketers say ‘we need community’ or ‘we
want to add social networking to our site’. Now, if they were forced to say, “We
need community because…” it would help clarify why this is the objective.

  • We need community because competition has it.
  • We need community because there’s a lot of hype.
  • We need community because we think our customers would like
    to talk to each other. ??

Perhaps we’re starting with the wrong objective. Is
Community really the objective, or a means to the objective? Maybe the
objective is to ‘drive conversion higher because marketing costs are
skyrocketing”. And therefore, community could be a strategy to meet the
objective. Or maybe not. It depends on the root cause and environmental factors
of the situation.

Why is the Because Test important? Why is it important to
differentiate objective from strategy? For several reasons:

  1. It opens the door to explore multiple strategies to meet
    a true objective, rather than jumping straight to a strategy that may not
    clearly meet the objective or goals.
  2. It saves time, because if you start talking about a
    strategy too early, you may have wasted time on something that doesn’t meet the
    objective.
  3. It gets people engaged. People work on strategy and tasks
    to meet an objective and the goals of that objective. Without a clear
    objective, which everyone needs to be reminded of, people forget why they’re
    working so hard.

 
What’s objective are you meeting in reading this right now?

One Response

  1. Bert D says:

    Good post Sam. Seems like ‘because…’ is the first Action step in the BAIC formula. Something like Point Of View in communicating, right?
    Keep up the stimulating ideas…

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