The WHY Before the WHAT Before the HOW

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FountainBlue’s September 16 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘The Why Before the What Before the How’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as a People Leader – Ruth Radford, Lam Research
  • as a Program Leader – Sam Gupta, Pure Storage 
  • as an Engineering Leader – Pooja Agrawal, Renesas

Our spoke eloquently and passionately about their whys and provided practical and effective strategies to align everyone to a purpose, while delivering on results (the whats and the hows). Below is a compilation of their best practices.
Respect Everyone’s Contributions

  • Allow people to collaborate and deliver their portion of the deliverable, while aligning everyone to the client objectives and project purpose.
  • Welcome people from different backgrounds to contribute.
  • Resist the urge to more efficiently do a task yourself, and respect that others have different strategies which may also work.

Connect and Reframe

  • Connect people from different backgrounds, roles and mindsets with each other, aligning on the same purpose and contributing toward a common goal.
  • Help uber-technical people see the bigger picture, the larger solution.
  • Invite technical people to explain how a technology or process better serves the customer so that you can make a business case for support and resources.
  • See the WHY from all angles so that you can communicate the version of the WHY which would motivate each stakeholder. 

Overcome Resistance

  • Conversations around the Why sometimes meet resistance, especially if change is required. Objections might include problems with the what or the how, or even challenging the strategy or requesting validation that it will work. 
  • Continue to have direct conversations around the why, focusing on the corporate mission and values and direct customer requirements helps address objections.
  • Lobby for the resources and support to enable cross-functional teams to collaborate and deliver quality results.
  • Communicate the need to accelerate the pace of business, align behind core values, deliver on results, and adopt new skills and knowledge.

Plan Well, While Also Embracing Agility

  • Be clear on objectives and create plans which mitigate risks, especially risks that are likely to happen, or those which would be disastrous if they should happen.

The bottom line is that in this world of great change, leaders and companies must rally behind a ‘WHY’ and deliver WHAT customers are looking for, in a WAY which is efficient, effective and sustainable. 


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