On a + note

Why “why” really matters. #17: 2012

Posted in on a + note by Admin on June 4, 2012

 Lately, I have come to the realization that when you clarify why you are doing something, how to do it becomes amazingly clear. This may seem self-evident, but actually documenting why you are testing a new service, program, or structure is the real secret to a successful implementation.

For example, ask yourself why the new project:

► supports the library mission, vision, values, and purpose.

► improves service and enhances productivity.

► reaches the unserved or underserved library customer.

► provides a positive ROI.

► promotes the library.


Exploring why can be as simple as a +/- flip chart (see above). When I’m working my way through exploring the why of a new project, you often will see a simple paper flip chart and a bunch of colored markers in my office. My thoughts are recorded on paper, so I can look at them and add to them as an idea occurs to me.  More importantly, I can read what I have written and ask myself “what were you thinking?”


The benefits to having a big, bold chart “in my face” are that it’s unavoidable, and it’s sharable. I can ask the why question again and again, put some real numbers to the ROI, and think my way through the project details.  It allows me to assess risk and budget implications and invites brainstorming and idea sharing from others.


Finally, speed is often crucial in assessing the impact of a project and deciding whether to invest in a more complete assessment of the potential or take a pass. The all-important why question helps me move ahead quickly and sort out the essential elements to assessing the potential of the project. Understanding why naturally leads to the how, the practical steps to roll out the project. If you haven’t invested in the why, the how quickly becomes complex and convoluted and risks the very success of the project. Why really matters.


Kitty Pope                                                                                                    #17 June 2012



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