Strategic Leadership, Management & Organization Development

A Good Idea is Not Enough to Ensure Success

start with why

This article originally appeared on The Exec Ranks blog.

I’m not the first person to suggest that understanding why anything is done should be the driving force in an endeavor. Well known names such as Steve Jobs and Simon Sinek come to mind as two important figures in our society who have declared why as a prerequisite for success.

Let’s transfer that concept to the arena of a business startup, or new product introduction, or move to larger quarters, or any number of other human efforts. Before working to articulate a vision, or formulate strategy, or try to figure out how to go to market, or build a system of goals, or hire the first person, the initiator of the effort would do well to determine the real WHY.

Getting Started

Start with WHY represented in a statement of Mission that is understandable to other people. Not a wall poster mission that one can buy, and not a one liner that says “we will be the best” or “exceed customer expectations.” Rather, infuse the Mission with the values, philosophy and purpose behind the decision to undertake the challenge, whatever it is.

Why is it important to you, the owner of the initiative, to make this happen? Why are you willing to overcome obstacles and meet the inevitable challenges that will arise? Why will anyone else be glad that you created the state, thing or condition that will result from your effort? If it is a business, why would anyone pay for the deliverable? Why will you be better off and why will someone else be better off, (not necessarily financially, but in a human way) if they partake of your offering?

The Challenge

“Good” ideas are all around us in never implemented form. A good idea is not enough “why” to ensure success. All of the above “whys” and more will determine how success will come and how it will be recognized. The criteria by which success is measured will be determined by the degree of clarity present in the myriad answers to the questions of WHY. This may be the greatest challenge of all.

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