Why. Perhaps the ultimate question. Why are we here? Why is there air? Why are some people so nice, while others are so annoying? Why do animals do any number of instinctive things? Why do I have to clean my room? Why do I have to go to school?
Anyone who has ever been the parent of a three-year old absolutely hates the question, “Why?” That’s because it’s their child’s favorite word. The old joke is that child keeps replying “why” to any statement, any directive… anything.
Yet “why” is an important question. It’s one too often overlooked in the normal course of a business day. “Why are we doing this?” To increase market share; to take on a competitor; to gain a foothold in a new market; or, maybe, just to satisfy the guy in the corner office.
There is an anecdotal story about a company that committed a considerable amount of money (i.e. six figures, or more) toward sponsoring a professional tennis tournament. To outsiders, it was a head-scratcher. Why would a business-to-business company with no connection to any professional sports at all, devote those kinds of resources to sponsoring an event when there was little, if any, connection between the tennis tournament and their business or any of their target audiences?
The answer was simple. The CEO loved tennis and wanted to rub elbows with the tennis glitterati.
Why don’t more people ask “Why are we doing this?” before the project starts?
Then there was the organization that was ready to take on a major commitment of time, money and personnel for a meager non-related return. They were ready to move forward until someone observed, “This is like the tail wagging the dog.” Moving on…
How often do you see companies and non-profits create forms and applications, etc. asking for line after line of information out of habit. Really? Why are you asking for that information? What are you going to do with it once you’ve gotten it? Why would you have someone fill out their street address, state and ZIP code when all you really need is their email and phone number? Is that a good use of anyone’s time and talent?
Why do we do the things we do? Why do we ask for information that we don’t need and/or will never use? Why don’t we ever stop and think about some of these things before we do them?