It is a fundamental truth that an organization exists to solve a problem for people.
Think about every organization you know. Companies, social groups, governments, community organizations, faith-based groups, non-profits, and social interest advocacy groups were all formed because of an identified problem.
Sometimes the problem might be affecting members of the group and they organize to address it.
Other times the problem might be affecting someone else. In those cases, the organization might be formed to find ways to address the problem for everyone affected by it, and in doing so earn a profit. That’s a company addressing a market.
This all begs the questions about whose problem the organization solves, how it solves the problem, and how well it solves it. Most importantly, does everyone in the organization share the same understanding of these points? Just like the organs in a body must work together to keep a person alive, the components of an organization need to be aligned.
Achieving clarity around the company’s purpose is essential to the efficient execution of strategy and growth plans. That’s why “Get Clear” is the first step in the IntelliVen Manage to Lead System for improving organization performance.
The “Power of Clarity” lies not just in a shared understanding of the company’s strategy but also in how that understanding shapes execution and results in superior performance.
The W-W-W template provides a simple way to visualize the central questions on which your team must be aligned:
“What do we provide, to who, and why do they buy it from us?”
All organizations – and especially businesses – should get and stay crystal clear about whose problem they solve.
Yet it is common for leaders to describe their organizations in terms of one or two but not all three dimensions. That’s because thinking about the three dimensions of market, problem, and solution all at the same time challenges the mind. It is hard for most people to think about all three for any length of time.
While it may at first seem simple or obvious, it is usually surprisingly difficult for leaders to sort out and agree on how to describe all three dimensions. Employee surveys invariably reveal that the most urgent need across the organization is to get a better handle on: “Who are we and what do we do?”
Top leaders may themselves be clear about one or two of the three dimensions but do not realize that it is critical to be clear about all three. There simply is no point during standard day-to-day operations that forces leaders to compare and reconcile their understandings of the organization’s what, who and why.
But when leaders know and articulate the problem their organization solves for whom, it helps them and everyone else in the organization individually, and collectively, to perform better.
Organizations that have developed a purpose, mission, vision, and an “elevator pitch” may have already answered the question: “Whose problem do we solve?” If not, however, then the mission, vision, and elevator pitch should be revised, or a separate effort undertaken, to clarify the three dimensions.
This video walks through the W-W-W and a simple 3-Step Process to align your team on their consolidated version:
Complete the W-W-W Exercise at this link to submit WHAT your organization provides to WHO and WHY customers buy it. Collect filled-in templates from team members. Submissions will be returned to you upon entry and later with annotated input from the IntelliVen Learning Community.
Compare and consolidate inputs from multiple team members to arrive at a W-W-W everyone on the top team believes in and supports. Continue to expand the stakeholder group to capture new thinking and communicate broadly the result.
Watch this 2:56′ video introduction to the W-W-W:
Repeat and iterate with stakeholders (board members, investors, next-level managers, employees, customers, partners, etc.) until the consolidated W-W-W has stabilized. Run with it as the backbone of communications until it needs to change as the organization evolves.
Read the case study on how IntelliVen enabled Compusearch to achieve better team alignment and more effective operationalization and execution.
Far more important than getting the W-W-W right is getting it the same across all leaders. Once leaders agree on the same W-W-W they can work to improve and optimize it over time as described in the clip below.