Category Archives: Get Clear

Know whose problem you solve, how, and how well.

How to set direction when the leader is not sure where to head next

Leaders set direction, align resources, and motivate action as suggested by the panels in Figure 1.  Another way to put it is that a leader develops, holds, nurtures, communicates, and drives to achieve a vision.

Figure 1: A leader sets direction, aligns resources, and motivates action.
Figure 1: A leader sets direction, aligns resources, and motivates action.

As in Figure 2, it helps to think of the leader holding a map, like Harry Potter’s Marauder’s map that is always changing, making sense of it, and navigating the course with those led looking on over the shoulders. The best leaders constantly check with their top team to confirm that they are headed toward the same goals, in the same way, and for the same reasons.

Figure 2: A leader develops, holds, nurtures, communicates, and drives to achieve a vision.

Top leaders are also always open to input from their core team to tweak goals and plans along the way. Clarity starts with the leader.  If the leader is not clear then no one else can be clear.  A leader either: Continue reading How to set direction when the leader is not sure where to head next

Tips to consultants helping organization leaders create THEIR WHAT-WHO-WHY

Before leaders set out to change their organization, it helps to be ready to change. To get ready to change, leaders should be clear about their organization as it currently exists. A good place for them to start is with their organization’s purpose.

The purpose of an organization is to solve a problem for a customer. It follows that there must be a customer WHO has to solve a problem (WHY), with WHAT the organization provides to the customer.

As simple as it sounds, most every organization leader and top team finds it more than a little challenging to compile a clear, consistent, and articulate explanation of their WHAT-WHO-WHY. The following tips are to help third-party consultants work with organization leaders to get them ready for change by agreeing on their WHAT-WHO-WHY.

Create a WWW

  • Ask each top team member to create a WWW using this template. Make sure that each leader works alone to fill out the template off the top of their head.

  • Collect submitted WWWs and share them with the team without attribution. Insist that team members work the point and not the person; that is, it does not matter which of them said what…what matters is what is said.

  • Don’t worry if the first cuts are rough. Plan to iterate with the team, stakeholders, and outsiders to distill complexity (and ugliness) into simple, clear statements over time (weeks, months, even years).

  • Do not strive for brevity right away. Use all the words that come to mind to get points expressed before editing.

  • Encourage team members to not settle for what first comes to mind. Ask them to read and think carefully about each word. Ask for clarification. Parse each word carefully and iterate to achieve specificity, clarity, and accuracy.

  • Then dig even deeper, and keep digging until the team gets to the essential truth for each W.

  • Encourage the team to share their WWW with as many smart people as they can to get honest feedback. The more input they get, the better the result will be. “Group think” is their enemy.

  • Remember that more important than getting the WWW right is getting the team to reach agreement on any WWW

It is vital to cut through the dream and get to reality. The points below are to push on the WHO and the WHY to move past the obvious, hypothetical, or imagined answers and get to truth.

Work on WHO

  • Identify the buyer WHO makes the decision to purchase what the organization provides by role, not by industry or by organization.

  • Study people in the role to understand their persona. It is vital to understand the thinking of WHO makes the decision to purchase the product or service. Only once the actual customer is known can those responsible for sales find buyers and market to them.

  • The organization’s board of directors and investors are someday soon going to stare into their CEO’s eyes and ask: “Can YOU sell what the organization provides?” It is not possible to answer in the affirmative without the rigor associated with the research and analysis suggested here.

  • Once the team knows and understands WHO they are selling to, they can begin to answer WHAT and WHY; specifically: “WHAT does the buyer need/value?” and  “WHY does the buyer need/value it?”.  
  • Organization leaders rarely explicitly know exactly who their buyer is and what their buyer really wants. Once you really understand your WHO you will be able to “crack the code” and stand out compared to the crowd.

  • If there are multiple WHOs, have the team create a WWW for each WHAT-WHO-WHY combination by repeating the process documented here for each, and then facilitate the team deciding on which one to run with first.

Work on WHY

     If the answers to these questions are not known, then find them.

  • While there may be subordinate/secondary WHYs. It is critical to get to the primary one. Secondary reasons are good to understand and consider because they help differentiate the WHAT from other solutions, but the primary WHY makes the sale.

Stick to the three simple (but, by no means easy to answer) questions. 

Don’t modify them as there is no need:

  • WHAT does the customer buy?
  • WHO buys it?
  • WHY do they buy it?

About the Author

Eric Palmer has 30+ years of outstanding success as a lead operating executive in private, public, private equity owned, and venture capital backed companies. He is particularly adept at strategy formulation, operational execution, International operations, M&A, leveraged debt, IPOs, and working with professional funders.

Other Posts by Eric Palmer

What makes an exceptional WWW

How to get a rogue team member back on board without drama or disruption

Every leader eventually finds they have a toxic executive team member who behaves poorly, spreads discontent, or otherwise goes off track and holds the core leadership team, and the organization, hostage indefinitely. 

As the leader, it is up to you to do something, but you avoid confronting the offender perhaps because you are averse to conflict or perhaps s/he is a longtime friend, co-founder, or even a family member. Instead, you hope things will work themselves out, but they never do; things just get worse.

Do you give up, let the organization wallow forever, or act? Such a dilemma!

The IntelliVen Manage to Lead Immersion Program provides leaders with tools and methods to address undesirable team member behavior without disruption or drama.  Continue reading How to get a rogue team member back on board without drama or disruption

Get Clear

The purpose of a business is to solve a problem for a customer…which begs this question:

WHAT solution does your organization provide to

WHO and

WHY do they pay for it?

A way to think about it is that there are three dimensions to any business: WHAT, WHO, and WHY or in terms of Market (WHO), Problem (WHY), and Solution (WHAT).

Leaders tend to describe their organization in terms of one or two, but rarely all three, dimensions. The reason may be because thinking about  any three things at the same time challenges the mind. If anyone does think three completely different things all at once, it is hard to do it for any length of time.

The 2:56′ video above uses the graphic below to present a way to visualize an organization in terms of the problem it solves (or WHY anyone needs what the organization provides), for WHO (market), and with Continue reading Get Clear

At Your Service

Service business ideas are a dime-a-dozen. The question is: Which ones will be successful?” One way to find out is to implement the idea. Another is to do the math before taking even the first step.

Watch this comic scene from Opportunity Knocks in which a businessman uses careful logic as he stumbles into a business venture.

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Click to see a short motivational scene from Opportunity Knocks.

Your service may not be what you think.

Consider, for example, how much would someone be willing to pay to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth symphony? Would it be:

  • $1 for an MP3 on iTunes?
  • $20 for the CD?
  • $200 to hear the NY Philharmonic live?

Continue reading At Your Service