As mentioned in my introductory post for the series, establishing the ‘Why‘ is a key factor in driving and ensuring user adoption of any platform or technology investment. The ‘why’ not only helps provide focus by defining the business challenge, but it helps inform the type of value that can be delivered to the business.
And when I speak of the ‘why’, it’s not the veneer or superficial why – ‘Because we need to be more collaborative’, ‘We need better employee engagement’, ‘We need to tap into our collective knowledge’. It’s the deeper why – Why specifically does your business feel they need this new technology? Why specifically do you believe this technology will do ‘the trick’. Why specifically do you believe it will change the way your business operates? These are the deeper whys that need to be asked and answered.
How do you begin?
I personally like the 5 Whys – it allows the business (client) to begin defining their business challenge in a very simplistic and relatable way. For example, if we use one of the client statements above –
- Why do you believe your business needs a new technology platform? Because we need to be more collaborative
- Why do you believe your business needs to be more collaborative? Because our employees don’t seem to work together effectively
- Why do you believe your employees do not work effectively together? Because we see duplication and disconnection in our work
- Why do you believe there’s a duplication and disconnection? Because there’s a lack of awareness of what other parts of the business are doing and what other employees are working on
- Why do you believe the lack of awareness exists? Because we don’t have a single or shared way of exchanging or surfacing information across the organisation
So the root cause isn’t really that employees aren’t collaborative, it’s that the organisation doesn’t have a single or shared way in which information is exchanged or surfaced across the enterprise, resulting in the employee’s lack of awareness of what’s going on and therefore can’t be collaborative. If I don’t know what’s going, how can I be more collaborative and involved in what my co-workers are doing? The business challenge can then be said to be, the lack of a single, shared way in which information is shared across the business. Additional questions can then be asked to further define the challenge, such as what type of information needs to be shared? Who shares the information? Who needs to access the information? What are the specific activities, operations and processes needed which have the potential to impact the business’ productivity and profitability? Pulling all of this information out, from that single definition will help formalise an understanding of the core business challenge.
What capture mode do you use?
The 5 Whys is most successful, I find, as an inclusive activity. So my preferred capture mode is a whiteboarding session, which I’ve had the most success with. It allows session attendees to feed off of each other and visualise, in a more dynamic, way their true business challenge. When I’ve tried ‘canned’ presentations I found that the clients, at times, felt like they were being led down a specific path rather than being allowed to discover their correct path.
As the 5 Whys exercise generally requires more than just those involved in the initial exploratory conversation, I use it as an opportunity to bring both the technology and business influencers (sponsors) into the conversation. Whenever considering a technology/platform implementation, you should by default go beyond the technology/platform layer, meaning beyond only those involved in supporting, deploying or maintaining it. Yes, they have a very important role but at the end of the day, it’s the business that’s utilising the technology/platform that ultimately will determine the value add of that technology/platform within the enterprise, through usage and adoption. So make it a point of bringing in some of those influencers during the Why conversation.
Begin with the Why. Give your client the opportunity to uncover their true business challenge. And through establishing a succinct definition of that challenge, you’ll be able to assist in isolating the enablers (true drivers, which will be covered in my next post), which are extremely important for establishing use cases, ensuring value, driving adoption and ultimately defining success.