We enable people to go to work, by providing transportation, by repairing their cars

Note: This is the second installment (of the first part) of my 3-part series on what I like to do - Why you must prevent any discussion on the “How” until the “Why and What” is 100% done.

Last week I discussed why establishing "why and what" are the most important first steps in the strategic planning process.

Now, let me give you a simple example by imagining we were working with a group of investors looking to build a car dealership that sells and repairs automobiles. To establish the why, what, and how for them of "We enable people to go to work, by providing transportation, by repairing their cars....." I would use the following progression to illustrate the principle - below:

Enabling People to Go to work - "Why"  

By Providing Transportation - "What"       

 By Repairing Their Cars - "How"

It would seem obvious to most that, if you intend to build a new car dealership, that you cannot fix (HOW) cars before you have sold (WHAT) them and, most importantly, before you establish which business you are in (WHY).

Using the example and the lexicon above, while the hierarchy of planning seems to be self-apparent; in America we are obsessed with skipping over the Why and What and getting right to "repairing" (HOW) cars. That is because we have become a culture of "doers" - building and fixing things is what we do best.

What can you do to avoid "fixing cars" before you have sold them? I think it is essential to be able to answer the following six crucial questions to your own and everyone else's satisfaction involved in your enterprise before you move forward. (Asking and answering these questions is also invaluable for those organizations that have hit a mid-life plateau or have stalled in their evolution.)

This is excerpted from Patrick Lencioni's book - "The Advantage" - around which an entire offsite session for leadership can be designed to create alignment and clarity within an organization or business:

  1. Why do we exist? (Why)
  2. How do we behave? (Why)
  3. What do we do? (What)
  4. How will we succeed? (What)
  5. What's most important right now? (How)
  6. Who must do what? (How)

Now, I have to ask.........can you and your management team answer all of these questions, creating absolute clarity and, are all team members aligned around the answers? If so, you have the basis for a good strategic planning process. If not, maybe a timeout is in order to do so.

Next up in the series; “Who is responsible for the "Why, What, and How" progression in strategic planning”.