• Sam Decker

Clarify Objectives with the “Because Test”

I thought meetings were pretty good until I got my Six Sigma green belt and started to see things through a DMAIC lens (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control). It was amazing how many meetings started with the “Improve” phase immediately, before we had properly defined, measured or analyzed the problem. We were still successful through execution and correction, but we could be better.

Test if you’re starting with the right objective by using the word ‘because’. Simply add the word ‘because’ after you describe your objective.

For example, what if you hear someone say ‘we need a user community'.

Now, if they were forced to say, “We need community because…” it would help clarify why this is the objective.

  1. We need community because competition has it.

  2. We need community because there’s a lot of hype.

  3. We need community because we think our customers would like to talk to each other.

  4. We need community because if they talk to each other we reduce costs.

Perhaps we’re starting with the wrong objective. Is Community really the objective, or a means to the objective?

Maybe the objective is ‘drive conversations because support costs are skyrocketing'. And therefore, community could be a tactic to meet the objective. Or maybe not. It depends on the root cause and environmental factors of the situation.

Why is the Because Test important? Why is it important to differentiate objective from strategy? For several reasons:

  1. It opens the door to explore multiple strategies to meet a true objective, rather than jumping straight to a strategy that may not clearly meet the objective or goals.

  2. It saves time, because if you start talking about a strategy too early, you may have wasted time on something that doesn’t meet the objective.

  3. It gets people engaged. People work on strategy and tasks to meet an objective and the goals of that objective. Without a clear objective, which everyone needs to be reminded of, people forget why they’re working so hard.

What’s objective are you meeting and because why? You will eventually find the right answer.