Where do you start the process of determining how to do something?  I suggest you start by asking why.  Ask why you should even do it at all.  Ask why it’s important.  Ask why it needs to be done now.  Sometimes simply asking "why?" is enough to help you start your process with the right perspective.

Need an example?  Here’s one:  Your team is asked to put together a marketing plan to sell a seminar.  It should include a postcard and an email.  You start by asking for ideas about the copy, the pitch, the facts (when it is, how much does it cost, where it is).  You get all the way into it.  And as an afterthought you notice that this particular seminar is the type that really should be free.  But in your budget it needs to cost x because that’s how the proposal made it through to acceptance (it’ll pay for itself").  What do you do?  My suggestion is that you stop right then and ask "why".  Oh, it’s better to ask "why" at the front end.  But at the end of the day it’s better to ask it whenever you get the chance.  Why always precedes how.  Always.

For another take on why check out Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni’s blog.  She’s got a fantastic post on this idea.  You can take a look at it right here.  

Step One: Ask Why
  • Mark:
    It’s fascinating to see how good we’ve become at jumping into action, yet it’s so easy to be doing the wrong things.
    Asking “why” may seem an overly simplistic way of going — and sometimes we do not want to seem to question the powers that be — it pays off big dividends in the long run.