Bringing new Ideas to Life :)

16 Nov

Focusing on the What vs Focusing on the Why

In our cult err team we have a lot of things that we are proud of but the one thing that may be unfathomable to some, but one of the most significant for me, is our Transparency.

Transparency within the team ranges from all of our salaries being open to the team, to being able to question, discuss and push back anything you might want to.

Being able to question something doesn’t equate to doubt or forming your disapproval in the form of a question but simply wanting to know the backstory i.e the Why.

Don’t Press The Button.. But Why?

Every morning, each team member shares on Slack the 3 Key things they will be working on. That is part of our team’s best practices.

You might think “ugh sounds like a drag; but if everyone is doing it I guess i should do it too”. But in reality, the reason, i.e the Why, we start our days like this is so we can ask ourselves what is the biggest challenge we’ll work on solving today and help better prioritize our day.

So by knowing the Why we should share the 3 key things, doesn’t it actually become more clearer? And if it’s clearer isn’t easier to apply it? And knowing the Why, isn’t it easier to improve it or question it?

Because that is why the Why is so important.

At the same time, we also don’t do things “Just cause” and the answer is never “Because I said so”, so it’s important for the other person to know why that choice was made to be able to understand it.

  • Why did the product team decide we need to refactor our code (to be more agile), or
  • Why we never push changes on Fridays (cause what if the push leads to bugs during the weekend), or
  • Why did the content team decide to use Singular in our email correspondence (cause we want our customers/partners to see us as their friends).

Because if you know the Why , you can understand the logic behind it and if you understand the logic then you can either Improve it, Follow it or GTFO. (Slightly paraphrasing Lead, Follow or GTFO.)

Why vs. What & How

By shifting focus from the What to the Why a team can understand a decision, and more easily figure out How to do it and What is needed i.e timing, priority, who will be involved etc.

Using a simple example, with primary school mathematics and multiplication. We can memorize how 5×5=25 but at the same we can understand that 5×5 actually means 5+5+5+5+5=25. And by understanding that then you don’t need to memorize anything and can solve any other multiplication. Side note, I am actually really bad at math so the irony is not lost.

So by knowing or asking Why then the reasoning and purpose of an e.g Task, we are able to find the best possible way to do it and adapt to whatever curveball might arise.

As an added bonus of asking or expecting the Why is that also forces the initiator to go back and think about their work and by doing so they can also improve it and share their knowledge.

So it’s a win-win :)

Press the Button

Taking into account the above, you are probably thinking “How do you ever get things done if you asking the Why all the time?”

We don’t actually ask the Why for everything.

Having asked or being provided with the Why in other instances, we begin to understand the thought process of our teammates so we don’t need to ask the Why each time and can simply carry through,

i.e Follow, their direction knowing and trusting they know what they are doing and them trusting that we will question their process if needed.

Trust is probably one the other significant foundation of our team.

We trust that if a task is assigned to a teammate, it will be completed up to the Ideas2life standards. And guess what, if they need to they will push back.

But the silver (or golden) lining here is that they might not even do that because they know and trust their teammates decision and direction.

An example I often give to non-cult members that portrays this trust is that if any team member told me that the sky is green I would probably believe them.

The very simple and completely rational reason for that is that I know that the next day when I ask them Why they will give me a completely valid reason backed up by the latest scientific research.

Ridiculous, right?

Well, that is the Ideas2life way :)

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