"Why, Why, Why?"
Why this, why that, why then, why now,
Why not, why, why, why, why?
Have you ever noticed the use of 'why' questions is selective? When someone
is trying to make a point they throw up the 'why not?' as if to say "prove
me wrong." When we aren't sure we agree with someone we offer a defensive
"why?" to put them on the spot. Adults often see and utilize 'why'
questions in calculated, manipulative and judgmental ways. Children-at least
preteen aged-use 'why' in an appreciative manner; seeking truth, pattern,
and reason from their observations.
Productive planning needs the why. Whether it's for your organization,
family vacation, or retirement-ask all the 'why' questions possible in the
most genuine truth seeking way possible. Often the 'why' is forgotten. Case
in point: two years ago a county board's highway committee recommended that
the county build a salt storage facility. The rationale: you can get better
pricing on salt if we can get it at our convenience rather than during snow
season. The committee also suggested that they negotiate with surrounding
communities to contribute to the price of the building and get lower salt
prices for themselves. Thus a 15,000 sq. ft. salt shed was built.
About a year ago I ran into the public works director of the largest town in
the county (who opted out of the salt building). I asked him why his
community wasn't a part of the salt storage consortium. He said, "in the
near future liquid chemicals will replace salt. It's available now and some
communities are using it. We're waiting for the cost to come down; we know
there's virtually no storage requirements and it's just as effective as
salt." I said, incredulously, "You mean to tell me they spent a $1 million
dollars for a soon to be obsolete solution?" He grinned and replied, "Well
at least they've got a great facility for storing equipment."
Nobody in the county asked the "why?" The committee came in with the
solution instead of the question and because of that alternatives were never
We have seen fabulous ideas fall flat because no one asked the 'why;' we've
also witnessed incredibly ridiculous ideas come to fruition only to crash
and burn because no one asked 'why.' Remember Clear Coke and Green Ketchup?
"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail."
- Benjamin Franklin
I was going to use the JFK quote "The time to repair the roof is when the
sun is shining" for this musing, unfortunately this bit of wisdom is lost in
today's economic and political environment. We are seeing more and more
organizations wait until staff productivity is hampered by outdated
technology before considering an upgrade. Or value engineering new
construction to the point that is obsolete or too small before it's
completed. Or move to provide 'just in time' training that just missed the
mark. Or make the decision to start a Facebook presence just as Siri begins
telling us...well...everything. You get the idea and I don't want to be
negative Natasha but c'mon people, plan for what you don't know not what you
Part of what makes Face to Face so successful is that we plan for what we
don't know. Planning takes vision, vision casting, goals, and guts. It is
essential in a GPS world.
There are many ways to plan for the future of your organization. You can do
it 'in house' using internal resources; you can use a proven industry model;
or you can hire a couple of great facilitators who are fun-loving, bright,
energetic, and creative. You know, like us!