Focusing the Why

Focusing the Why

There is a new technology around every corner. Customer and client expectations are evolving at an ever increasing pace.

How do you determine what strategic changes you should make that will deliver value to your enterprise? Whether you have a for-profit, non-profit or public sector enterprise, focusing on WHY you may need to implement change in your enterprise is a very important step. It will serve as a solid reference point for the subsequent decisions you will need to make. A solid reference point keeps you focused and enables you to ensure that all the small decisions you make in designing and implementing the change are aligned to the result you want to achieve.

Change Context – Drivers and Outcomes

There are two key parts to focusing the WHY change. First of all, clearly articulate and agree on one or two key change drivers and the results you want to achieve. This clear articulation will define the context and the direction of the change you will introduce and the value to your enterprise of investing in this change.

If you have too many and vaguely understood change drivers, you will not be able to focus your business change and thus you will not be able to attain the specific results that you desire. Some common change drivers to consider are;

  • Expanding market share,
  • Entering new markets,
  • Responding to changing customer needs and expectations,
  • Cost or resource challenges,
  • Strengthening customer relationships,
  • Addressing regional economic or quality of life challenges, and
  • New regulations or standards, to name but a few.

Your strategic response to the significant change drivers must enable you to achieve a clearly identifiable outcome for your organization.

A clear outcomes can be defined in terms of one or more goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). You may not always be able to specify a time bound target at the outset but it must be set prior to a detailed design of the change.

Clarify Means and Ends

When identifying your change drivers and results, keep in mind that although new technology can be a significant contributor to the change drivers, technology is not itself the purpose of the change. This means new technology should not be identified as a change driver or an outcome. 

“The adoption of new technology is a means to intended outcomes. It should never be an end in itself.”

The rapid growth and improvements in technology, cause shifts in customer expectations, creating new markets and enabling streamlining of operations which are all potential change drivers. In responding to technological advancements, you must identify the key change drivers that are most relevant to your situation, directing you to achieve specific results such as; cost reduction, stronger relationships with clients or market expansion.

Value Proposition

The second part to focusing the “WHY”, is defining the value proposition of the change from a stakeholder perspective. Value propositions for the key stakeholder groups will provide a reference point to direct and bound the scope and design of the change. A stakeholder value proposition is

a description of measurable value that

addresses one or more basic needs, challenges or desires a stakeholder group has for

solving a problem, performing a job, or improving their experience.

Value propositions are very specific to the situations being addressed and the type of stakeholder.

There are a number of different recognized techniques you can use to define stakeholder value propositions, such as;

  • Value Proposition Canvas,
  • Customer Journey Map, and
  • Variation of the Five Whys.

In the end, all of these techniques share a common aspect. They are all aimed at discovering the fundamental need of the stakeholders in terms of the outcome that the stakeholders wish to achieve. That outcome may be related to accomplishing a task, reaching a financial goal, realizing a quality of life, or delivering value to their own stakeholders.

You may also include adjectives in the value proposition. Adjectives address key expectations that a stakeholder has about the product or service and how it increases the value to them.

Confirm the value with your stakeholders

Wherever possible, engage with your stakeholders to confirm their needs and gain a clear appreciation of the outcomes they desire. This is important not only with customers or clients but also with groups and organizations that partner with you in the delivery or your products and services. It is also critical to create value propositions for the employee groups that are essential to operationalizing the change. If they do not perceive value in  going through all the effort of change you will not achieve your anticipated ROI.

Understanding the stakeholder’s desired results will give you a much more focused understanding of their key needs and expectations. This will lead to a more relevant and effective value proposition and is the critical first step to fostering stronger commitments from your external and internal stakeholders, to engage with your strategic change.

The WHYs

  • Identify what the drivers are, that are necessitating change and determine your desired results.
  • Then understand and articulate what value the change will provide for your external and internal stakeholders.

Following these two key principles will allow you to focus your strategic change and produce desired outcomes for your enterprise and value for your stakeholders.